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Honda ponders sub-CR-V crossover

Small possibilities: The new Honda CR-V will hit Australian showrooms this year, but the company could introduce an even more compact SUV further down the track.

Possible new baby SUV on the cards to join Honda’s CR-V in Australia down the track

1 Mar 2012

HONDA Australia has confirmed its interest in a sub-CR-V compact crossover vehicle that would give it the ammunition to tackle a new breed of smaller SUVs that are becoming increasingly prevalent among car-makers.

Examples of such sub-compact SUVs include the Subaru XV, Mitsubishi ASX and Nissan Dualis, as well as forthcoming models such as the Ford EcoSport plus the Holden Encore and Opel Mokka.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins told GoAuto at the launch of the new Civic earlier this week that, while no such vehicle was available in the global portfolio, it was something the brand was eyeing keenly.

“There is no doubt that there’s a trend toward smaller, under CR-V-type vehicles,” he said.

“That’s something we are actively pursuing, to see whether we can get a product to fit into that sub-segment. It’s clearly an opportunity in the future, and I think those types of car are going to continue to grow, so we’re certainly seeking opportunities.”

Honda will introduce its crucial fourth-generation CR-V toward the end of 2012, offering both front and all-wheel-drive configurations for the first time.

The addition of a diesel-powered CR-V – an Australian first – will further bolster the range when it arrives several months later, and will give it the ability to target a far larger chunk of the compact SUV market.

As we have reported, Honda Australia’s stocks of the current CR-V are rapidly dwindling, with supplies not set to be restored until Honda’s flood-damaged Rajuna plant in Thailand is back up and running around April.

Last year’s floods crippled Honda’s Australian supply of several key models, with sales of Thai-built car such as the CR-V, Jazz, Civic, City and Accord all well down on previous years. The brand was 25.4 per cent down on sales overall in 2011 compared with 2010.

While the company was able to temporarily switch sourcing of its Jazz and all-new Civic, which launched earlier this week (see separate story linked below), its Japanese homeland, it had no such luck on the current CR-V.

Honda Australia has also said it had no firm plans to re-introduce a bigger SUV to slot above the CR-V in the range.

The company previously sold the Canadian-built MDX medium SUV – sold in the US by sub-brand Acura – in Australia up until 2007, but Mr Collins told GoAuto that the current generation was not available in right-hand-drive and therefore could not come here.

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