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Honda aims for turnaround (Hyundai, take note)

Rappler.com
Will Honda regain spot as third best-seller in the country? Company says sales will return to 2010 levels after a contraction last year

MANILA, Philippines – Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) is optimistic its sales will recover this year as the supply of auto parts from flood-hit Thailand starts to normalize.

But will this be enough to reclaim its spot as the 3rd best-selling brand in the Philippines?

Tasuya Natsume, president and general manager of HCPI, said the company hopes to go back to its 2010 sales level of 16,604 units after a contraction last year.

HCPI’s sales plunged 30% to 11,611 units in 2011 due to scarcity of auto parts following the twin earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan early that year, and then Thailand’s worst flooding in 5 decades later on.

Thailand is a major center for car production for most of the world’s biggest manufacturers such as Honda, which was hardest-hit by the floods.

Honda had to close down two major plants that could produce over 200,000 units in Thailand last year, while suspending operations at its other plants in the region, including the Philippines. 

Yuishi Fukuda, general manager for automotive business division of Asian Honda Motor Co. Ltd, said Honda Thailand has resumed operations last March 26 and will soon be able to supply the Philippines with automotive parts and components and completely built-up vehicles. 

Natsume said that for now, HCPI continues to source its vehicles from Japan, but at a higher cost for the company. 

March sales

So far, HCPI posted its highest monthly sales in 20 months in March, with 1,631 units sold in the Philippines.

This, Natsume noted, enabled the company to be number one in the passenger car segment during the month.

“This shows the continuation of the turnaround of Honda, which started since February 2012. All of the new models of Honda enjoyed full month sales and healthy availability in March.”

However, it is uncertain if it will be the same story for Honda’s overall performance this year.

In 2010, the company, traditionally ranked third among automakers in the country in terms of sales, was overtaken by Korean automaker Hyundai, which sold 20,172 units that year, according to industry data.

Honda sold 16,604 units in 2010, the same number it aims to attain this year.

Toyota was the top seller in 2010, with 56,855 units sold, followed by Mitsubishi, with 32,422 units sold.

The rankings were the same in 2011.

New models

Honda is now focused on the assembly of the City in the Philippines after discontinuing the local production of the Civic in February.

Natsume said more than half of HCPI’s sales in March were completely built-up units, while the rest were City vehicles.

He said production of the City is currently at its full capacity of 40 units per day or about 900 per month.

“Sales of the City is also much higher,” he added.

Other Honda vehicles available in the market are the Jazz, CR-V and Accord.

Honda launched Monday, April 23, its all-new 4th generation CR-V.

“With the launch of the all-new CR-V today, we have resumed supply for all of our models,” said Natsume. – Rappler.com