Honda this week has taken the wraps of their all-new compact five-door MPV, the six-seat FR-V, which goes on sale in the UK on 16 November 2004.
FR-V, says Honda, stands for Flexibility Recreation and Versatility. Simon Thompson Honda UK's Head of Marketing said this week, "By using two rows of three seats this configuration offers outstanding versatility for maximum people and luggage carrying. It also offers ideal communication facilities between passengers in the car. The layout allows a child to sit with their parents in the front, or if the children sit in the rear of the car there is no loss in communication space between them and their parents with the front centre seat back folded down. We think the FR-V is unique in the packaging it offers and it has no direct competitor, although the Multipla does offer six seats as well".
The new model, which is built in Japan, will sit in their current model range between the highly rated Honda Jazz five-door hatchback with its clever interior seating and the under achieving six-seat Stream MPV. It will also appeal to current owners of their HR-V sports utility MPV crossover vehicle say Honda.
FR-V prices in the UK for the three model range will be £14,750 for the1.7-litre VTEC SE, £15,700 for the 2.0-litre iVTEC SE and £16,400 for the 2.0-litre iVTEC Sport. Diesel models, using Honda’s highly acclaimed 2.2-Litre i-CDTi all aluminium engines from the Accord and new 2005 Swindon built CR-V 4x4, will be added in the summer of 2005. These will carry a price premium of around £1,300 over their petrol counterparts.
Honda UK expects to sell 5,000 FR-V models in the UK next year in the compact segment of the MPV market. This year is segment is expected to reach 200,000 sales with the main sales contenders being the VW Touran, Renault Scenic, Vauxhall, Zafira, Ford C-Max, Fiat Multipla and Citroen Picasso.
Commenting on the lack of an automatic transmission option Thompson said, "The sales figures just do not justify it in this segment where traditionally sales are only five per cent. Also in this sector our figures show that 85 per cent of customers are new to the sector, 48 per cent are retail customers and 80 per cent of the vehicles on sale offer five seats. We see customer being 35 plus years of age with one or two children under the age of ten. Research show there will be 1.5 to 2 incomes per household and their current vehicles are likely to be C sector premium cars are D sector quality vehicles. They want to upgrade to a better quality product and logically we see petrol models accounting for 57 per cent of total FR-V sales in the UK with the 2.0-litre petrol model taking three quarters of those over the 1.7-litre version".
Thompson also announced that Honda are rolling out a unique ECO Easy Care Option which is a prepaid, five-year service and three year service package for retail customers buying the FR-V. He said, "We are piloting this scheme with the new model but if it delights our customers then we could offer it on other models in the range as it offers big saving for retail customers. Combining servicing and insurance packs with our existing Honda Aspirations PCP finance scheme means the FR-V 1.7 SE is available to customers with three years insurance and five years servicing costs prepaid for £300 per month with an initial deposit of £3,222 and optional final payment of £5,510 although this figure should be less as we expect the car to have a residual value of 42 per cent after three years".
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