Honda’s compact new S660 is going gang-busters in its home market of Japan - but the roadster’s sales data isn’t stacking up quite as expected.
Revealed in March and launched in Japan not long after, the tiny S660 is doing so well that the company reports it has sold all 8600 cars that were slated for production this year.
But, according to business paper Bloomberg, there’s a quirk in the figures: despite its youthful styling, sharp pricing and a marketing campaign aimed at younger buyers, a whopping 80 percent of sales have gone to customers aged over 40.
Priced from around AU$21,000 in Japan, the S660 was expected to return Honda to prominence with young adults. But, not only are four-in-five buyers well outside of the ‘young’ category, most of them have been returning customers looking to buy a second car.
For most of those returning customers, their primary car is also a Honda, meaning that the S660 has struggled to attract conquest sales - buyers lured away from another brand - or brand-new motorists looking for a cool first car.
On the surface, it might seem that the S660’s unexpected demographic split is a good problem to have, given it is nonetheless a strong seller. As a brand-building exercise, however, the data may prove troubling for management.
The lack of interest among young buyers in Japan could in part be attributed to a decline in licensed motorists.
For Japan, Bloomberg reports a 46 percent drop in licence holders under 40 over the past 13 years, and Australian data shows a similar - if less pronounced - drop in the number of young people getting a car licence.
Although Australia does not maintain a national record of licensing data, figures for Victoria show that the number of people under 25 getting their licence has dropped from 77 to 66 percent since 2001.
Affordable sports cars remain popular in Australia, however. Hyundai's Veloster, for example, sees a roughly one-third-each sales split across the '34 years and under', 35-49 and '50 years and over' age groups.
Honda has yet to confirm an Australian launch for the 48kW and 830kg S660, although reported plans for a more powerful ‘S1000’ model could eventually point to a local debut.
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