Honda sales are decreasing in a market that’s increasing, a fact to which Honda drew attention when the company’s U.S. sales boss called out the industry for short-term tactics that artificially expand the size of the market.
U.S. new vehicle sales are up 5% through the first seven months of 2014, yet sales at the Honda brand are down 1.3% and sales at Acura are down 1.8%.
The good news at Honda includes their lack of reliance on fleet sales, the strong loyalty-building resale values of their vehicles, and their lack of emphasis on incentives.
Yet lost in the overarching statement that says, “Honda sales are down,” are the sales figures displayed by their core models.
Sales of the best-selling Acura, the MDX, are up 55.5% through the first seven months of 2014. The MDX is nearly 20,000 sales back of the dominant premium brand crossover, Lexus’s RX, but it leads the Buick Enclave and Cadillac SRX and easily outsells the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and BMW X5. With RDX sales sliding slightly and Acura’s car division in the throes of undesirability (ILX and RLX) and major model changeovers (TL and TSX to TLX), the MDX’s strength is a true bright spot.
Over at the headlining Honda brand, the company’s three best-selling models are collectively up 3.1% this year. The Accord, Civic, and CR-V account for more than three quarters of the Honda brand’s U.S. volume, and sales of this trio are not less common this year than they were last year.
July sales of the Accord jumped 11.3%, taking the midsizer’s year-to-date tally up to 220,351 units, a 0.9% increase. Among America’s five top-selling midsize cars, the second-ranked Accord’s growth is slowest: Camry volume is up 8.3%, Altima sales are up 2.9%, sales of the Fusion are up 4.3%, sales of the Sonata are up 5.8%. But midsize sales overall have fallen 1.6% in 2014 as the Malibu, Optima, Passat, 200, defunct Avenger, and Legacy have all declined. The overall passenger car market has not expanded at the same rate as the Honda Accord, either, rising just 0.7% year-to-date.
Meanwhile, while compact car sales have risen just 1.2% this year, Honda Civic volume is up 3.1%. It is now America’s second-best-selling small car, having led the compact category in both 2012 and 2013. While sales of the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Volkswagen Jetta, Mazda 3, and Dodge Dart have fallen, Civic sales have risen.
Finally, the Honda CR-V is America’s top-selling SUV/crossover through the first seven months of 2014. The CR-V owns a much smaller portion of the utility vehicle market this year than last, however, as overall utility vehicle sales are up 17% in 2014 and the CR-V’s own category is up nearly 19%. CR-V volume has grown 5.9% year-over-year.
Simply put, Honda’s most successful models aren’t the models holding the brand back. As Acura will surely be helped to some degree by the new TLX, there is anticipated growth from Honda via the HR-V and a replacement for the aging Pilot, sales of which are down 19% in 2014.
Combined sales of the Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, Crosstour, CR-Z, Fit, and cancelled Insight are down 13.3% in 2014, a loss of 28,192 units over the span of seven months.