Honda Winning Battle With The Quality Brands

Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V

With one of the most interesting and dynamic product line ups of all car companies, Honda is experiencing its best ever sales figures in the UK car market – currently selling on average 400 cars per day.

During the first half of this year, the company sold almost 50,000 models – which is 13% up on last year and equivalent to a 15 months worth of sales a decade ago.

Since 1994, the company has transformed itself from small niche player occupying less than 2 per cent of the market, to a quality manufacturer whose sales in Britain now surpass those of Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

The reason for such strong growth lies primarily with the success of Honda’s locally built cars at the HUM plant at Swindon. Currently the Civic 3- and 5-door and CR-V models built there account for over half of Honda’s British sales – with the CR-V number one in the petrol SUV sector, and the Civic (helped by the phenomenal success of the racing-inspired Type-R model) second only to the Ford Focus in the 3-door C-sector. In fact with the demise of British built Fords and Vauxhalls, the Civic range has become the most popular British built compact in the land!

Some of Honda’s other models have been performing well too. Sales of the multi-award winning Jazz are up by one third this year, while sales of the (also multi-award winning) Accord have risen by more than 40% thanks to the introduction of the impressive i-CTDi diesel derivative. It should come as no surprise then, that the S2000 is also experiencing its best ever year with UK sales up by more than one third. On average six lucky customers per day take delivery!

So what is Honda’s secret? The company’s UK Head of Marketing, Simon Thompson says: "Two main factors are the strength of our current products combined with a big improvement in the value of the Honda brand – we’re now seen as cool, dynamic and innovative rather than dull and boring. As a result, we are now a maker of cars bought by people that have a greater interest in a strong brand and great product quality. No longer are our products purchased solely on price, or through consumer offers – indeed we no longer offer special edition models which often detract from the intrinsic strengths of our cars."

While Honda is enjoying its best ever sales year, the company is not resting on its laurels. Recently the Civic Type S VSA introduced sporting dynamics to Britain’s most comfortable and accommodating hatchback – while at the recent Sunday Times Live Birmingham Motor Show, the company began test marketing a new flagship CR-V Premier model. Soon it will be announcing an exciting new take on the compact MPV theme, scheduled to start sales later this year.

Who knows where Honda will be in another ten years time?

Published 28 June 2004 Melanie Carter

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