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Honda aims for 50,000

New interest: Honda hopes to boost sales with customers returning to a fresh range.

Momentum from Civic Hatch and CR-V makes Honda optimistic with 2013 sales target

Honda logo26 Feb 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HONDA Australia is aiming for consistent and sustainable volume growth this year on the back of surging Civic Hatch and CR-V sales.

The company expects to achieve at least 45,000 sales this year – a sizeable 25 per cent jump over the disappointing 36,000 sales it managed last year – and possibly even more.

Honda Australia director and sales and marketing manager Stephen Collins said he is quietly confident that 50,000 units is possible this year, thanks to strategic promotional activity, freer supplies from Thailand, Japan and Britain, and a continuing favourable currency situation.

“I think our volume expectations are realistic,” he told GoAuto at the Jazz Hybrid launch in Sydney this week.

“With no supply restrictions, we can do more.

“That 50,000 mark is the next base we need to get to, and beyond there we will keep building back up to 60,000, which is our mid-term goal within the next two years.

 center imageFrom Top: Honda Australia director and sales and marketing manager Stephen Collins Honda Jazz Hybrid Honda Accord US



“I’d obviously like to do more, but it is a hugely competitive market with huge amounts of incentives offered above and below the line, and I think that is driving a bit of demand, and that’s why the market will be 1.1 million, but we’ll still be amongst it.” Even with competition remaining white-hot in the small-car and compact SUV segments in which the Civic and CR-V compete, and with no respite in sight, Mr Collins expects both models will attract new customers to the brand, and win back buyers who deserted it over the last five years.

“During the downturn, a number of manufacturers took customers from us. It doesn’t change overnight, and it’s our job to take them back.

“The CR-V is a good example, where we’re starting to see a lot of conquest business, particularly with VTi, and that’s where Civic Hatch is really important for us, too.” Boosted by recent specification upgrades and with the long-awaited 1.6-litre turbo-diesel option coming in April, the Civic Hatch is expected to lead the sedan in sales for the first time since the 1990s, with just under 16,000 buyers forecast for this year.

“The hatch market is growing faster than the small-sedan market.

“Our focus over the last five months has been on the Civic Hatch it appeals more to a slightly younger buyer, which we think is overall good for the brand.

“The sedan is still competitive, but if we’re selling 800 hatches and 600-700 sedans, doing 1500 Civics a month, then that’s pretty good and that’s where we want to be.

“And attracting that younger buyer is also important.” With the CR-V, Mr Collins said there has been particularly strong demand for the new 2.0-litre VTi front-wheel-drive base model as well as for the top-line VTi-L 4WD version.

“We’ve only just really launched with the 2WD in the new CR-V model, and that’s conquest. And with diesel coming, that will be conquest.

“All of these things add up to us getting a lot of our customers back.” Honda expects 14,350 CR-V sales this year – more than triple its 2012 tally of 4733 units, which was heavily impacted by the Thai floods of the year before and the subsequent model changeover.

Boosting the CR-V mid-year will be the availability of new driver-aid technologies, but the expected diesel-engined version has been delayed until early next year.

Meanwhile, the next-generation ‘wide-body’ Accord sedan will sell alongside the ageing Accord Euro for some time from the middle of this year, as Honda has yet to decide where it will go with the Euro replacement.

“Our plan for this year is certainly that the Accord Euro will continue,” said Mr Collins. “We will sell the new wide-bodied Accord – which we launch midway through the year – alongside it.

“The Accord Euro was updated about 12 months ago with a model change, and beyond that point it is still a little uncertain. We have not finalised yet what will happen.

“Clearly the two-pronged Accord strategy has worked incredibly well for us, and that would be our preference in the long term, but at this stage I can’t comment on an Accord Euro replacement.”

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