Honda Australia is on a brand-rebuilding mission, with the Japanese company having set its sights firmly on compatriot Mazda, in the battle of the brands.
Honda, which prospered during a golden age from the late 1980s through to the early 2000s with a series of sports cars and a focus on performance, has been accused of producing soulless cars in more recent years.
This appears to have created a perception that has seemingly hurt the Honda brand in Australia, a situation that the Japanese manufacturer is determined to change.
Speaking to CarAdvice trackside at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix last weekend, Honda Australia CEO Noriyuki Takakura admitted that a brand-rebuilding exercise was his company’s top priority.
“We are working a lot to improve [the brand]. We have to rebuild the brand again, it’s top priority for us.” Takakura said.
According to Takakura, Honda Australia’s biggest challenge is getting on customer shopping lists, which it hopes to do with a series of new and more sports-oriented models, so that Honda can create a “sporty feeling in customers' minds”.
Even so, Honda is well aware of where it currently sits on the perception scale, with Takakura openly admitting that customers prefer the Mazda brand to Honda in Australia.
“At this moment one of the most important things for us, is to regain the strengths of the brand in Australia," he said.
"At this moment we know that the Mazda brand is very strong and we have to compete with them because the customer perception is that the Mazda brand is preferable, so therefore we need to strengthen our brand.”
Part of this new strategy will be to undertake a brand evaluation locally and then create key performance indicators to lift the Honda brand.
Honda Australia had its best sales year in 2007, with around 60,000 units sold. In 2015 the Japanese brand managed 40,100 sales, up from 32,998 the year before.