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Honda looks to brighter future

Honda's starts to the year was nearly 30 per cent down but February was an improvement on 2011.

But the Japanese brand is getting through 2012 with some better news. Honda's Thailand plant - responsible for building about 80 per cent of the cars sold here - was inundated in the 2011 flood disaster, causing severe supply problems for the brand.

However the site will officially re-open at the end of March and will be sending cars our way again the following month. 

Honda Australia principal adviser to the board of directors Lindsay Smalley says the company will also get its UK-sourced Civic five-door nine months earlier and at a sharper price.

"Our intent is to reposition that car as a volume player, we'll have to do something pretty spectacular with the price and we intend to use the currency situation to do that - we're saying a mid-$20,000s motor car," he says.

"By the time that's in the market we expect to be selling around 3500 a month rate by mid-year," he says.

The Japanese brand has also been without proper supply of its CR-V SUV since October last year but will be launching an all-new model in the last quarter of this year. 

"It's a full model change in 2WD and 4WD, we believe that will lift our sales rate back to around 4000 a month, if not more," he says. With the return of the wide-bodied

Accord and the new Civic four and five-door models, the Honda beancounters are aiming for 40,000 sales this year, which is similar to its 2010 tally, and a longer-term aim of returning to its 2007 sales figures around 60,000.

"We repositioned our pricing in June last year on the majority of our models, back to value-for-money to get volume back, just after we did that, we had a fantastic reaction in June and July, we ordered up big and then the floods hit," he says.

The private sales columns for the Accord Euro and Odyssey show Honda is heading in the right direction -  in February, the Accord Euro led private sales in its medium sub-$60,000 segment for the third consecutive month, it says.

The brand's long-serving Odyssey peoplemover has also started 2012 - Honda says it is leading the private sales in the sub-$60,000 peoplemover segment.

The sales bump could also be coming as a result of the family-machine being re-priced to start from $37,100, a $2000 drop, with Honda also spruiking a features upgrade to the tune of more than $2500.

Honda's starts to the year was nearly 30 per cent down but February was an improvement on 2011 - 18 cars up - but the year-to-date tally is 13 per cent down.

Honda Australia director and sales & marketing general manager Stephen Collins, says the sales figures are a positive start to a year of rebuilding and growth.

"The Accord Euro has been leading private sales in its segment since late last year and continues to gain market share. "In overall sales for its segment, it ran a close second, along with the Honda Odyssey."

"Honda is firmly focused on delivering what Australian customers want in their cars value

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