At a business meeting this week with media, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins gave the best indication to date that Australians could get the next-generation Honda CR-V – likely due in 2017 – with three rows of seating.
“One of our big projects now that we’re working on is the next-generation CR-V. And I’ve got nothing to give you on that, I’m afraid. But I think trying to keep customers in your brand and having products that they can grow in to, or downsize to, is important.
“I think, in an ideal world, we’d love a large SUV,” he said, but following on from earlier reports by CarAdvice regarding a seven-seat CR-V, it appears clear that there is no viable option for an even bigger SUV to be offered locally.
Collins said a seven-seat CR-V is “under consideration”.
“If we were to be able to provide that sort of option, then I think that would sort of help us in that journey of customers upsizing and also downsizing,” he said. “I think we’re pretty covered on the downsizing front, it’s more the upsizing part.”
While Collins wouldn’t tell the assembled media if we would get that vehicle, he did say that the decision of whether to offer such a model has already been made.
Collins went on to explain how the Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pick-up that are designed for the US market would be on his wish list for Australia, if they were to be made in right-hand drive. But he admitted that there is a long way to go before such models would be viable here.
“In terms of what’s available, probably the two gaps for us in the market as we see it, are a large SUV – you don't have to be Einstein to work that one out, we know there are certain variants available in the US that are only available for the US market.
“So at this stage there’s nothing on that horizon. But I think we will continue to scour the world for an option in terms of a large SUV,” he said.
“I think there’s no doubt that not having a large SUV makes it more difficult through that journey,” he said of retaining buyers who outgrow their current Honda.
“We’ve certainly made that desire known. The question comes, you know, for right-hand-drive markets, whether we can build a business case. At this point that’s not able to be done. I wish I could sit here and say it is, but it’s not.
“Our Asian office, and the global product planning office, is certainly aware. The numbers show it. The large SUV segment is growing, it’s not going to go anywhere south anytime soon. And nor are commercials,” he said.
The Ridgeline dual-cab pick-up is designed for lifestyle users rather than hardcore tradies, something that Hyundai is likely targeting with the production version of the Santa Cruz ute.
“We don’t have a pick-up available. There is one in the US. But again the prospect of a pick-up becoming available in the short term is not an option for us,” Collins said.
“So we’re going to concentrate on what our core business is, and what our core business is is selling SUVs and passenger cars.”
Tell us what you think - would a bigger Honda SUV or Honda pick-up appeal to you?