Honda sustains turnaround from two natural disastersBy Raquel Gomez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Despite the tsunami in Japan and flooding in Bangkok, which greatly affected car production of Japanese car makers, Honda Cars Philippines made 2012 memorable by the introduction of car models that boast of innovation and fuel efficiency along with strong vehicle sales and overall optimism.
HCPI began the year with the introduction of the new City in January, followed by the all-new Civic and special Edition Jazz in February. In April, it unveiled its all-new fourth-generation CR-V, which is the company’s flagship car.
With the aim to regain its hold in the mid-size sedan market, HCPI launched a full variant lineup of the all-new Civic in July. The all-new Civic is now available in both 2.0-liter and 1.8-liter engine choices. While four of the five variants are equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission (paddle shifters available on the 2.0EL and 1.8E models) the 1.8S variant will also have a (5-speed) manual model.
In June, it also launched the Pilot and Odyssey, which are premium SUVs targeting family use.
HCPI president Tatsuya Natsume described company’s sales performance in 2012 as strong and exhibiting steady growth, which, he said will extend to 2013, given the strong growth of Philippine economy.
“2012 showed a relatively strong automotive industry performance, with a steady growth, given the encouraging market indicators such as availability of supply, strong customer demand and financing schemes. With the strong growth of the Philippine economy, we see that 2013 will be a bullish year for the automotive industry,” said Natsume.
Despite the two major disasters-tsunami in Japan and flooding in Bangkok-affecting parts supply and hampering local sales and manufacturing operations, HCPI experienced robust sales in March, registering 1,631 units sold.
Natsume described it back then in a newspaper report as “our highest sales in the last 20 months, (showing) the continuation of the turnaround for Honda, since February. All new models of Honda enjoyed full month sales and healthy availability in March, which enabled us to be number one in the passenger car segment for the month.”
“In 2011, we have had two major disasters that had gravely affected us—the Japan earthquake and the Thailand flooding. All supplies and production had ceased and hampered our local sales and manufacturing operations. Given that, we started the year 2012 with very few units to sell and gradually increased our sales based on the recovery supply.”
With the introduction of the all-new models, Civic sales went up by 65 percent from March (first full-month of selling) to August this year against the same period last year, while CR-V sales were up by 66 percent from April (first full-month of selling) to August this year against the same period last year.
For the next year, Natsume said the company plans to increase awareness of Honda’s revitalized new and full model lineup, particularly to new car buyers.
“Our challenge is to increase awareness among new car buyers that Honda is revitalized with new and full model lineup. We are encouraged with the market acceptance of our current models. Our goal is to provide vehicles of the highest quality. At the same time, we will continue to appeal our products, so that more customers will appreciate the Honda product strengths and quality.”
As to more new exciting models coming up next year, Natsume said the company intends to bring in its hybrid models Insight and CR-Z to the Philippine market should the “Hybrid bill” be passed into law. He said the hybrid cars will be priced attractively to entice Filipino consumers.