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Honda plans fightback to 60,000 sales

Line in the sand: The new Civic sedan is projected to kick off a period of sustained growth for Honda Australia.

Sales will recover to 2007 levels inside three years, says Honda Australia

1 Mar 2012

UPDATED: 13/03/2012HONDA Australia will use new models and sharper pricing as key planks its ambitious quest to double its total sales inside three years, back to where it was in 2007.

First cab off the rank was the new Civic sedan launched late last month – with pricing slashed by as much as $4300 over its predecessor – with new iterations of the Civic hatch scheduled for release in July and the CR-V compact SUV in the final quarter.

Significantly, the new-generation CR-V will enable Honda to offer, for the first time, cheaper front-wheel-drive model variants, matching big-selling rivals such as the Nissan X-Trail and Toyota RAV4.

Honda’s Australian sales have fallen consistently since its heyday of 2007, when it recorded 60,529 new registrations and claimed sixth spot on the sales charts.

Last year, sales plummeted to 30,107 units – the lowest result since 2002 – although much of the blame for this was chalked up to natural disasters in Japan and Thailand that decimated its supply.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the launch of the new Civic marked a “line in the sand” for the company and would mark the start of its sales fightback.

128 center imageLeft: Honda Australia director Stephen Collins.

“2011 was a tough year for Honda,” he said. “It’s been well documented that our business was severely impacted by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.

“2012 is our year of rebuilding for Honda – rebuilding with great products, value-for-money positioning and well-targeted communications.”

Mr Collins revealed a sales target of 40,000 units for this year, but told GoAuto that this was just a stepping stone in the car-maker’s mission to climb back to the 60,000 sales mark by the end of 2014.

“The key for us is sustainable growth,” he said.

The company will seek further growth in 2013, with 50,000 sales in its sights. This growth will come on the back of a full year of sales for the new Civic sedan and hatch, the redesigned CR-V and half a year of sales of the new-generation Accord range, due in the first half of next year.

The sales target for 2012 will be achieved through a progressive increase in volume, with modest targets to the end of March due to an ongoing battle with weak supply.

Mr Collins said Honda had devoted much of its sales and marketing energy this year on vehicles sourced from Japan, including the Accord Euro and Odyssey. Both models recorded significant sales increases last month, with Accord Euro up 178.6 per cent (1105 units) and Odyssey up 157.4 per cent (203).

Although Honda sold just 1579 units in January and slipped out of the Australian top 10, the Japanese brand rebounded with 2603 units last month – a 0.7 per cent increase on February 2011 and enough to place it back into 10th for the month.

Sales of the Jazz light car, now temporarily sourced out of Japan and the subject of heavy advertising throughout Australia, have also improved, with 854 units recorded last month (up 48.5 per cent).

Monthly sales are projected to grow to 3500 sales per month between April and June as Thai-sourced supply of Civic and Jazz finally recommences.

This is expected to increase further after the July introduction of petrol versions of the all-new British-built Civic hatch (a diesel will be added in 2013), plus the restoration of supply levels from Thailand to 100 per cent.

The new CR-V will follow in petrol guise (diesel is set for 2013) in the fourth quarter, by which point the company projects it will be achieving monthly sales of 4000 units.

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