Last year, Honda broke the 100,000 sales barrier for the first time. “This year, we’re growing again and we are currently eight per cent up, year-on-year,” said Bernard Bradley, Honda UK’s head of sales, speaking at the company’s Driving Week at the Midlands race track.

The two Swindon-built products, five-door Civic and CR-V, account for more than half of Honda’s sales.

Bradley expects Civic sales to be about 44,000 this year but the real success has been new CR-V, launched at the beginning of the year.

It’s already the best seller in its class, said Bradley. Sales are up 17 per cent year on year and he expects full year sales to be more than 20,000, making this the best year for CR-V sales.

“It is very successful in corporate sales and has become a real user-chooser car thanks to its image, quality, low emissions and low fuel consumption. It’s been the most successful corporate sector launch we have had,” said Bradley.

All this is good news for Swindon which will reach capacity of 250,000 vehicles a year this autumn. An extra 700 workers have been employed, taking the total workforce to 5,000.

Another milestone will be reached this October when Swindon is on schedule to build its one millionth Civic.

“The plant has a very positive impact on the UK economy,” said Bradley. Of the 328,000 Hondas sold in mainland Europe, 44 per cent are built in Swindon. The factory has also started exporting Civics to South Africa and Australia – Swindon is the only Honda plant worldwide building the five-door Civic.

Bradley expects a further boost to Honda’s corporate sales with the launch in September of the Accord SE and Accord Sport GT.

The SE, powered by a 2.2 litre diesel engine, is priced (OTR) at £18,600, just below VW’s Passat 2.0 TDI SE at £18,967.

“Without the SE, we only competed on price in 50 per cent of the segment,” said Bradley.

The Accord Sport GT is launched in response to demand from corporate buyers for performance and style, said Bradley. This uses the 2.2 litre CTDi engine and is priced at £20,767.

Published : 22/08/07 Author : Melanie Carter

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