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Honda CR-V early delivery

On the run: Honda is expected to start a runout of the existing CR-V later this year.

Honda pushes forward with the introduction of its new CR-V

11 Jul 2001

THE next generation Honda CR-V could be on sale in December as Honda Australia strives to reverse its sliding sales trend.

The new wagon, which will be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in late October, was not originally scheduled to go on sale in Australia until the first quarter of 2001.

"We're planning to launch CR-V as soon as we possibly can," said Honda Australia customer services director Lindsay Smalley.

"We are very confident about CR-V." But Mr Smalley conceded getting CR-V this year would be "difficult".

While sizeable stock would not be seen in dealerships until well after the new year, the pre-Christmas launch would allow the company to start a runout of the existing CR-V earlier.

That would have a positive effect on the company's sales figures, which are about 10 per cent off last year's record results, despite a larger market overall.

After six months of 2001, Honda has sold 12,335 vehicles, compared to 13,680 in the same period last year.

CR-V, which has been a huge sales success in Australia, is down more than 800 units compared to the first six months of 2000.

The company believes it can get back on track to 30,000 sales for the second consecutive year with a strong CR-V run-out and the launch of the new generation Integra in August.

The new CR-V is expected to be bigger and heavier than the current car and be powered by a new 2.4-litre, double overhead cam, VTEC i-Series engine. According to Honda insiders, the new wagon's styling is an aggressive development of the current CR-V.

Honda Australia expects to continue to sell the CR-V in two model variants, although specification levels are expected to rise. That should also mean price rises, although they are not expected to be significant - currency willing.

* Honda Australia will decide within one month whether to import the Honda Civic sedan from Thailand from the 2002 model year. The transfer from Japan would be made in an effort to avoid exchange rate pressure on the Australian dollar from the Japanese Yen.

* Honda Australia is considering the hot three-door Civic Type-R as a low volume import candidate. Pricing will be the main issue, as it could not be placed too close to the soon to be released Integra Type-R. The base model Civic three-door is not a candidate for Australia because the UK-built car would be too expensive.

* Jazz is firming as the name for the new Honda small car which should appear in Australia in the second half of 2002, if the factory agrees to fit it with a 1.5-litre engine. The Jazz will also be known as Fit in some markets, a name Honda Australia does not see as appropriate.

* Mr Smalley confirmed the small HR-V 4WD range is close to being chopped. At the same time, the chances of the MDX - an M-Class competitor - coming here are growing. A left-hand drive MDX has been in Australia for market research since June.

* Honda Australia is favouring a return to the small "Euro" body for the next generation Accord due in late 2003. The larger "American" Accord has been sold here since 1997, but its price competitiveness has been eroded thanks to the crumbling exchange rate.

Smalley denies Devers conflict

HONDA Australia customer services director Lindsay Smalley describes the decision by former sales and marketing chief Tony Devers to resign in June, as well as his deputy Damien Meredith, as "something that came from out of space".

He denied Mr Devers' departure was the result of any conflict in the wake of the departure of Honda Australia deputy managing director Neal Roberston in April.

Mr Smalley and Mr Devers were both appointed as directors of the company and shared day-to-day management responsibilities between them until Mr Devers' surprise resignation.

"That's certainly not true," Mr Smalley said of talk about a conflict with Mr Devers.

"Tony and I have different strengths and I'd class him as the world's best sales and marketing man, and my background is really computer systems, parts and fixing motor cars.

"Together we got a fantastic team going, complementing each other's skills. But sometimes life changes." Mr Smalley expects to soon change his title to director of operations.

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