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Honda details 2019 sales ambitions

Big seller: Honda’s CR-V sold more units in 2018 then any other year, however that is unlikely to be replicated in 2019.

Similar private share, less total sales for Honda in 2019 with trying economy

15 Mar 2019

FOLLOWING its best 12-month sales result in a decade last year, Honda Australia is tempering its sales expectations for 2019 in the face of a slowing economy and falling new-vehicle sales.
The 51,525 sales it recorded in 2018 was the best figure for the Japanese car-maker since 2008, where it registered 52,571 units before the effects of the global financial crisis could properly be felt, culminating in a low-water mark of 30,107 units in 2011.
Despite achieving yearly sales growth every year since 2014, Honda is now anticipating its output to be down in 2019, due to a slowing economy and a relatively small rollout of new product.
Honda Australia general manager product, customer and communications Rob Thorp said the car-maker initially was targeting 48,000 sales in 2019, however further market contraction has forced them to reconsider its ambitions.
“The year ahead, we’re looking at the market and realising it is a slightly difficult time in that there has been some contraction in where we were this time last year, which is placing some pressure not just on us but the total industry and dealer network in totality,” he said. 
“In terms of our volume expectations, in November last year we communicated to our dealer network that 48,000 was our plan, but clearly since that time there has been further contractions, and we’re going through the process now of determining what that volume might be for the balance of the year. 
“We haven’t quite finished that just yet, but we are cautious in the current environment and current market as to what that might mean, so that’s something that we’re working through at the moment.”
Honda’s strong 2018 was spearheaded by the CR-V medium SUV which, with 16,107 sales, had its best yearly result ever, and a 69.5 per cent lift over the 9502 recorded in 2017.
The HR-V small SUV also came close to registering a record yearly sales figure with 12,148 units, just short of the 12,403 in 2016.
Honda’s other core volume-selling model, the Civic small hatch and sedan, registered 13,470 sales, down 8.2 per cent on its 2017 figure of 14,672.
While anticipating a dip in overall sales, Honda Australia says its success is also measured in other ways, namely its share of private sales.
Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the brand finished fourth in private sales share (missing out on third by 43 units) and the brand’s success in 2019 will be determined whether it is able to hold onto that share.
“We measure our sales by private share, so our brand is very much about private sales to mums and dads,” he said. 
“I think last year we were fourth in private sales in the overall total market, we missed third by 43 units so in my language we were equal third. 
“I think that that’s the true measure regardless of whether the market is up and down, because it goes up and down. 
“That’s where we want to be positioned and that’s where we are right now, we’re pretty happy with that. 
“Our goal this year is to hold onto that ranking and still focus our business on those private sales and not chase that crazy business that others may.”
Mr Collins acknowledged that the industry-wide drop in sales in 2019 has affected private sales more than fleet and business sales, and suggested that sales of the Civic – particularly the sedan version – are following the trend of medium sedans by being replaced by SUVs.
Another reason for Honda’s predicted downturn this year is a lack of new product coming through, with the all-new Accord the only model set for a generational change, and Honda has confirmed the medium sedan will not be a volume seller for the brand.
The Civic sedan and NSX supercar will also be lightly updated, with the Civic hatch to follow in nine to 12 months.
To celebrate Honda’s 50th anniversary in Australia, a number of special-edition LE models will be released across its core model line, meaning the CR-V, HR-V, Civic and Jazz are the most likely recipients for the limited-run treatment.

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