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Honda aims for 50k sales

All AWD: Honda is planning to stick to its all-wheel-drive format CR-V.

Honda will strive for 50,000 sales this year without a cheaper front-drive CR-V

20 Aug 2010

HONDA Australia has ruled out a front-wheel-drive CR-V to take on an influx of two-wheel-drive compact SUVs from rivals, at least until the next generation arrives in 2012.

Nevertheless, the company still holds high hopes that it can hit the 50,000 vehicle target in 2010, despite not having a price-leading sub-$30,000 compact SUV to vie against the Koreans (Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage) as well as the upcoming front-drive Nissan X-Trail.

This is a far cry from the 80,000 to 100,000 sales projections the company was making four and a half years ago, and half of the eight per cent market share that Honda was hoping to achieve for 2010 back in early 2006.

The firm’s best year in Australia was in 2007 when 60,529 Hondas found homes in this country.

15 center imageFrom top: Honda Australia managing director and CEO Satoshi Matsuzawa, Honda CR-Z and Honda Insight.

According to the recently arrived Honda Australia managing director and CEO, Satoshi Matsuzawa, the goal now is steady growth and consolidation though marketing programs such as limited editions and pricing specials.

A host of new models – including a focus on hybrid vehicles such as the Insight and CR-Z coupe – should further strengthen Honda’s brand in the important $30,000 upper small-car hatch segment that the company has been unable to participate in since the demise of the last-generation Civic Vi hatch in January 2006.

“Our target is to achieve 60,000 sales (over the next two years),” Mr Matsuzawa said.

“The 80,000 figure (set in 2006) was not perhaps a reality ... but (in a few years) maybe – with new products. We have to have a realistic target.

“The economy is becoming more stable, but nobody can be sure (what will happen).”

However, Honda will have its work cut out to hit the 50,000 sales mark for this year.

The company’s volume to the end of July is just 1.5 per cent above the same time last year (25,355 versus 25,007). Last year, sales slid 21 per cent from 2008 levels (41,443 versus 52,571).

Honda spokesman Mark Higgins said this was due partly to a massive cut in supply from the Thai factory that provides more than 80 per cent of Honda Australia’s volume.

“When the GFC hit the Thai factory dramatically reduced its production (to weather the crisis and protect the business), and so, as supplies have returned and new models arrive over the next three years starting with the new Insight in December then sales will start to rise again.”

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