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HR-V to supercharge Honda sales

Sales saviour: Honda is expecting to sell about 800 HR-Vs a month in Australia, which are similar numbers to the popular Nissan Qashqai and Subaru XV.

Sharp HR-V crossover to bring new customers to Honda in coming years

12 Feb 2015

HONDA plans to nearly double its sales in Australia over the next three years to 60,000 units annually, led by strong conquest sales from the HR-V crossover launched this month.

Set up to be one of the brand’s three best sellers alongside the Jazz light car and CR-V SUV, the newcomer could add about 10,000 sales to Honda Australia’s annual tally, meaning that it should easily push past the 40,000 barrier this year.

While Honda’s sales last year were down 15.9 per cent compared with 2013 at 32,998 units, things started picking up from September, following better supply of the City sedan and Odyssey people-mover and the release of the all-new Jazz.

The City was the top-selling light sedan in Australia last year, while the Odyssey overtook the Kia Carnival as Australia’s favourite people-mover.

Along with the added momentum brought on by the HR-V, the recently facelifted CR-V Series II, price cuts for the Odyssey due to the Australia-Japan free-trade agreement, and some upcoming value-added actions on the struggling Civic small car, should further boost Honda sales in Australia.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the car-maker was still aiming for a significant increase in sales to get it somewhere near its best sales result of 60,529 units in 2007.

“Our plan is within the next three years to get back up to 60,000 sales,” he said. “We’re planning for 40,000 this year with our three core models… and we’re delivering to the marketplace a brand new car (HR-V) in a growing segment.

“I think a lot of this volume will be incremental, and it is quite significant growth, and we have a full year of Jazz and very close to a full year of HR-V, so it’s strong growth (prediction). We have the product to deliver that type of growth.

“I have confidence. The second half of last year was significantly stronger than the first half, so we’re well on the way to getting to that number this year.

Mr Collins highlighted aggressive targets for the HR-V, which would place it up near the strong-selling Subaru XV and Nissan Qashqai in the burgeoning segment.

“The HR-V is positioned right in the sweet spot of a growing segment, and for that we want to be doing around 800 units per month, and we anticipate that much of that will be incremental business, particularly younger pre-family buyers new to the brand.

“So it’s probably our number one priority for the year – to market this car aggressively to establish it as a key player in the compact-SUV segment.”

While mindful of it stealing sales from the CR-V, Mr Collins said the HR-V’s more youth-oriented positioning should ensure it does not have much of an impact on its larger sibling.

“I think it will be naive to think there will be none, but I do believe they really do appeal to different customers,” he said. “With CR-V we are selling 700 per month and we’re planning to keep selling around the same number with the just-launched Series II.

“CR-V is a family car and we are selling to that market, while the HR-V appeals to a younger, pre-family market. So I’m very confident the two can be sold side-by-side… with minimal cannibalisation of CR-V.”

Mr Collins said lack of a base manual HR-V to compete in the bottom end of the segment against the cheaper base Holden Trax and Renault Captur is not seen as a hurdle.

“There’s no manual available locally, but we’re not concerned about that, because the lion’s share of this segment is automatic… so we don’t think it’s an issue.

“We’ve listened very carefully to our customers and conducted significant research to ensure that we’re giving customers in this segment what they want, and I’m confident that we will achieve (our sales goals).” Honda expects that the mid-range VTi-S from $27,990, plus on-road costs, will be the most popular HR-V, accounting for 40 per cent of total volume, with the base $24,990 VTi and flagship VTi-L from $32,990 snaring 25 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

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