For the first time in its history, Honda (UK) will top 80,000 car sales this year. With the brand finding nearly three times as many British customers as it did a decade ago, Honda has achieved one of the biggest and most sustained growths in the industry.

In September this year the company notched up its one millionth sale, just months after the Swindon car plant built its millionth car and 1.5 millionth engine – and one month after the parent company sold its 50 millionth car worldwide.

The Civic has remained easily the company’s strongest UK seller – and now it is the most popular British-built compact car of all. This year sales will be similar to last year’s 36,000 unit total. The new Accord saloon is currently selling at more than twice the rate of its predecessor – and overall Accord sales are expected to match last year’s total even though the Tourer was not launched until May.

Honda’s main growth in 2003 has come from the CR-V and Jazz models, whose sales are up by 9% and 38% respectively. The CR-V has established itself as Britain’s best selling petrol SUV and is currently close to matching the combined petrol / diesel sales of the 5 door Land Rover Freelander. Meanwhile the Jazz has achieved large growth in the supermini sector – and looks set to pip the 5 door Toyota Yaris in this year’s sales chart.

Finally, Honda now leads the market for petrol / electric hybrid cars with the Civic IMA. This sole Japan-built Civic got off to a good start, selling almost 700 units since its launch in May. Right now, it is proving especially popular with Britain’s Police and Ambulance forces – and with private buyers keen to avoid the London congestion charge!

While Honda’s sales go from strength to strength, this has been matched by record production at the company’s Swindon car plant. Production capacity increased with the introduction of a second line in September 2001 – and this year’s output of more than 190,000 cars (comprising around 70,000 Civics and 120,000 CR-Vs) will be an all-time high elevating Swindon to fourth place in the UK car manufacturing league.

Of this total production, approximately 50,000 cars will have been sold in the UK, leaving around 140,000 (or 74%) for export. Some 60,000 will have been exported to mainland Europe with the remaining 80,000 dispatched to North America and Japan.

"We’re really buoyed by the success we’ve had this year, but we’re confident that 2004 will be even better," says Honda (UK)’s General Manager David Strangeway.

"With the improvements we’ve made to Civic, we expect to give the new VW Golf a very hard time. And in the class above, we’re expecting Accord sales to escalate with the launch of the diesel in February. Many of our other models have received some subtle improvements – and we’ve got a big surprise in store later next year," he adds knowingly.

Don’t be surprised to see Honda breaking a few more records in 2004!

Published : 16/12/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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