Honda Australia director Stephen Collins says the company is confident 2015 will be the year it reverses its recent sales decline, setting a sales target of 40,000 vehicles — a figure the company hasn’t reached since 2010.
It’s no secret that Honda’s sales have dipped in recent times, for a wide variety of factors beyond anything related just to product, including natural disasters in Japan and Thailand in 2011 that knocked its factories for six. For whatever reason you care to name, the shine has dimmed.
But according to Collins, new models such as the eagerly-awaited, reborn HR-V small SUV (February) and the updated Civic hatch (about July), plus a full year from the new or updated CR-V, Jazz, City and Odyssey, should see it take the momentum it found in the second half of 2014 and run with it.
“We’re expecting a lot more consistency,” Collins said.
“[We're] targeting 40,000 this calendar year, that’ll be very much underpinned by HR-V, Jazz and CR-V, the lion’s share of volume. The turnaround in Civic, [that] is the next priority.”
And on that note, let’s indeed not be too gloomy about the brand. The company’s tally last year may have dipped 16 per cent from 39,258 units the year before, but each of the final four months of the year was well ahead of the comparative month in 2013, by between 7.1 and 49.7 per cent.
Growth from core models such as the Jazz, City and Odyssey following the launch of new-generations last year gives it reason to hope for 2015, as does 10 months of HR-V sales in a growing segment where it has been bereft of a presence.
Also set to help out is the recent introduction of the Series II CR-V facelift, an improvement on Honda’s top-selling model that launched in December and immediately drove up monthly sales 23.5 per cent. Quarter three this year brings the launch of an upgraded CR-V diesel from the UK.
Read about Honda’s model rollout in 2015 here.
This all ties into a more general (mooted) return to a sportier image in the longer-term, with models such as the Civic Type-R and Porsche 911-rivalling Honda NSX to return, potentially at year’s end for the former and during 2016 for the latter, with orders to begin around July.
“Anything that's sporty is on our radar,” Collins told us, though the cute S660 miniature roadster won’t make it.
“Our reputation is still very solid and strong, [and] I’ve said it many times — I think the return of NSX and Type-R… these types of cars are going to get us back to where we need to be, in terms of sportiness,” Collins added.
As we know, one decision on this front that disappointed Collins was the global discontinuation of the sharp-handling Accord Euro, which will end production this year.
One other sore point that remains is Civic, which dipped 45 per cent last year to 7878 units, a bigger raw numbers drop than any other passenger car on the market, though a revised version of the UK-made hatchback (that accounts for 50 per cent of range sales) due mid-year should help.
“Look, I think any time when our volume is going backwards we’re certainly not happy but again I think we had some other priorities,” Collins told us when questioned on the Civic’s poor 2014 performance. “And I think overall our [brand-wide] sales in the second half were a lot stronger than in the first.
“Last year we were really focused on launching Odyssey, City and Jazz as the primary focus and we’re very very happy with all of them. This year is about doing the job with Civic,” he said, adding that currency flows were doing its European import no favours.
Collins pointed to offering some limited edition models and value-adding packages over the year to spice up its small car range, and to continue with pricing campaigns. It wasn’t looking at this stage to drop the RRP, though.
All told, the message from Honda is that 2015 will be a year where it consolidates and builds on the new models it launched in 2014, while adding a few more along the way, notably the HR-V and upgraded Civic (with the Type-R to follow a touch later, due to tight production and global demand). The target, should it be reached, would see Honda on its way back.
Do you see Honda potentially turning its sales around in 2014?