Honda Australia has rushed to assure customers that the Civic Type R will continue here despite an announcement it will be discontinued in some European markets at the end of this year because of incoming strict emissions regulations.
Company spokesman Mark Higgins says they pre-empted the statement to "get on the front foot" before customers became concerned.
Type R is the last of Honda’s performance vehicles and follows the axing of the Prelude in 2001, Integra in 2006 and the S2000 in 2008 and canning a return of the NSX supercar. It also follows Honda pulling out F1 two seasons ago.
However, Honda Australia CEO Satoshi Matsuzawa rejects claims the company has lost its mojo. "It’s important to address the position of Honda. We are still fun to drive," he says. "That car (Type R) represents our product."
He says supply of Type R and Si hatch will continue "for now". Civic faces a model update next year, but there has been no confirmation of a Type R variant.
"It's under consideration, but we’re not sure," Mr Matsuzawa says. "The CR-Z (sports hybrid) is coming next year and that is a good opportunity to demonstrate our enthusiasm for sport and the environment."
The UK-made Type R was launched in Australia in 2007 and together with the Si hatchback represents about 10 per cent of Civic sales.
Civic sales so far this year are 6695, up 12.6 per cent on the same period in 2009. Higgins says about 1840 Type R hatches have been sold in Australia. He says the more powerful Japanese-made Type R sedan (180kW, compared with 148kW) will not be imported to Australia. All our Civic sedans are made in Thailand.
While in the mood to confirm model lines, Mr Matsuzawa says the Legend and Odyssey will continue to be produced in Japan, despite moves toward smaller car production. But he ruled out bringing the North American luxury arm of Accura to Australia "at this stage".
He says a more important vehicle for Australia would be a mid-sized seven-seater SUV, like the North American Pilot but it is only produced in left-hand drive. Products Mr Matsuzawa has penciled in for Australia include the Jazz hybrid and a sub-compact “eco” car being made in India and Thailand.