A leading Honda executive has described the pick-up market as an “attractive” one and admits the company needs to consider the business case for a rival to the Toyota HiLux and other top-selling utes.
Acknowledging the popularity of utes in countries like Australia and Thailand, Honda Asia and Oceania regional operations chief operating officer Noriaki Abe said it was a vehicle class the brand needed to have a serious think about.
“The pick-up truck market is an attractive market and we believe that we have to look into this,” Abe-san said.
“If we see that there is enough volume to make our business viable then we would consider such possibilities.”
Honda made its first foray into the pick-up market with the mid-sized Ridgeline (below), which it sold in North America between 2005 and 2014.
The company is currently readying the second-generation Ridgeline (teased at top of article) to compete with the likes of the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. There are no plans to produce this model in right-hand drive, however, keeping it off the table for our market.
The ute segment is a highly lucrative one in Australia. The 4×2 and 4×4 pick-up segments account for 15 per cent of all vehicle sales locally, making utes the second most popular body style after small cars. Almost 130,000 utes were sold across the country in the first nine months of this year, with just shy of 100,000 of those 4×4 models.
With the brand still yet to devise a business case for such a model, however, a Honda ute will be years away from showrooms, if it gets the green light for production at all.
“In the meantime, as a passenger car manufacturer we have to offer fun-to-drive cars with an edge, a sharp character, to increase our presence in the market,” Abe-san said.
MORE: 2015 UTE COMPARISON – Ford Ranger v Holden Colorado v Isuzu D-Max v Mazda BT-50 v Mitsubishi Triton v Nissan Navara v Toyota HiLux v Volkswagen Amarok