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Honda CR-V goes from flood to trickle
Thai stock drought leaves Honda Australia without CR-V until second half of 2012
6 Feb 2012
HONDA Australia will be without a contender in one of Australia’s largest vehicle segments – compact SUV – for months, until supplies of the CR-V are restored from Honda’s flood-ravaged Thai plant in the second half of this year.
Dwindling stocks of the CR-V are drying up at dealerships around the country after the source of the model for Australia – Honda’s Rajuna factory in Thailand – was devastated by flood waters up to three metres deep last year.
The disaster means Honda Australia will be without run-out stocks of the current model until the all-new fourth-generation CR-V comes on stream from the refurbished factory.
No alternative temporary source of Australian-spec CR-Vs can be arranged, nor the Accord large car and City light sedan.
However, Honda Australia has managed to switch sourcing of its best-selling Jazz to Japan – now selling as the Jazz Vibe special edition – and is getting set to follow suit with Civic sedan when the new generation arrives next month.
The production switch of both cars was arranged in just three months – a near-miracle in car production terms.
From top: Current CR-V, Jazz Vibe, Accord, City and the forthcoming new Civic sedan.
Honda Motor Company is working around the clock to repair the drowned Thai factory, which was one of the worst-hit automotive assembly plants in Thailand.
Flooding monsoon rains swelled rivers across the Asian kingdom, swamping the Rajuna industrial park outside Bangkok for weeks, impacting not just Honda but many of its suppliers.
Honda Australia spokesman Lindsay Smalley said Honda hoped to have the plant back in production by April, but exports were not expected to start until the second half of the year.
He said that, while stocks of Thai-built models were falling, others made in Japan were helping to fill the void.
Last month, Honda dealers sold 709 Japanese-built Accord Euros – up 142 per cent on the same month last year – compared with just 40 Thai-built American-style Accords.
As well, Honda has been putting effort into Odyssey, sales of which soared 165 per cent in January, to 178 units.
Mr Smalley said some Honda distributors in other markets had been forgoing some of their stock allocations to help Australia overcome its stock shortages.
He said Honda’s new Civic sedan – due in early March – had been priced competitively to help fill the volume vacuum left by the temporary shortfall in CR-V stocks at dealerships.
Ultimately, Civic sedan production will revert to Thailand, along with production of the Jazz and Accord.
Honda Australia will also resume importing the current model Accord from the Thai plant once it becomes available, ahead of the roll-out of the American-designed new model in 2013.
The Thai floods topped a shocking year for Honda, which was badly impacted by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March.
Honda’s 2011 Australian sales plummetted 25 per cent, to 30,107 vehicles, and the company has started 2012 in a similar vein, down 29 per cent in January.
Last month, CR-V sales had fallen to just 251 units – down 41 per cent – with probably fewer than that number left in the showrooms.
Dealers could also only scrape together 29 City sales (down 83.7 per cent), and 120 Jazz hatchbacks (down 77.1 per cent).
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