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Honda expects Odyssey sales to almost double

Honda is banking on a taller body, seating for eight and a swag of new features to boost its new fifth-generation Odyssey people mover closer to the top of the Australian people mover segment.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins expects the more van-like model to be “right up top of the shopping list in this segement,” despite price increases of $3,890-$4700 across the two-grade lineup. Helping to justify the price rise is the availability of an eight seat layout for the first time and new features like powered sliding rear doors, a 7-inch multimedia screen, auto parking function, a 360 degree camera, blind-spot and cross traffic alerts and LED headlights.

The new model rides on a marginally 30mm longer footprint with 70mm added to the wheelbase, but the packaging improvements are gained mainly from a significant 150mm increase in overall height. With sales expectations of a 160 unit monthly average, a 1920 unit annual figure would nearly double the 1001 examples of the fourth-generation Odyssey Honda sold in 2013.

This would still be some way off the 2847 examples Kia sold of the segment-leading Grand Carnival in 2013, but sales of this model are likely to taper with an all-new version due toward the end of the year. Honda’s projection should topple the ageing and commercial-based Hyundai iMax that sold 1455 units last year, and comfortably retain its lead over the once-dominant Toyota Tarago that sold 960 units in 2013.

Honda claims the Odyssey is most likely to be cross-shopped against seven-seat SUV’s like the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Kluger, but their respective 12,668 and 4184 unit 2013 sales results are not likely to be significantly dented by the new Odyssey. Toyota’s Kluger is being replaced by an all-new model next month, but replacements for the ageing Tarago, iMax and the CX-9 SUV are still some time away, so the Odyssey’s new kid on the block status is likely to last at least until the new Grand Carnival arrives.

This reporter is on Twitter: @Mal_Flynn