By on December 2, 2008

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to hear that sales of nearly every Honda and Acura model were down in November, but just try guessing the one vehicle that actually increased sales. It’s not the brand-spankety new version of the once-hot Fit, which is down by 8.4 percent. Perennial best sellers Accord and Civic were also down 38.1 and 29.6 percent respectively. Nor did a single Acura crack into positive territory compared to last November, with the RL losing 40.3 percent, the TL dropping 22.2 percent and the all-new TSX down 9.1 percent. No, the only Honda/Acura vehicle that was up in November was the Pilot SUV, which was up 4.5 percent versus last November’s sales. Perhaps the biggest surprise isn’t that Honda’s best seller is an SUV, it’s that the Civic Hybrid is down 67.8 percent. The learning just never ends in this industry.

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16 Comments on “Honda Sales Slide 31.6 Percent In November...”


  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    This would explain why The Saturn Vue sold as well as it did last month. Looks like the market wants midsize SUV’s at the moment.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Honda had the technology but completely missed the boat on what Hybrid buyers really wanted – everyone else to know that they were driving a hybrid. The Insight outsold the Civic handily even though it was no where near as practical or user friendly. No other hybrid has taken except the Prius b/c all the other hybrids look just like the non hybrid version of a normal car.

    Early next year when the new Insight hits the road I bet sales will explode and finally Honda will get rid of the Civic hybrid.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Perhaps the biggest surprise isn’t that Honda’s best seller is an SUV, it’s that the Civic Hybrid is down 67.8 percent

    Not surprising at all. It’s a crappy car: cramped passenger compartment, no trunk space and tepid acceleration.

    The Prius is better in every way, so if you’ve a hankering for a hybrid, there’s exactly zero reasons to buy a Civic over any competitor, excepting GM’s BAS models–and perhaps not even against them! At least the Aura and Malibu are useful cars; Hybrid Civic sales were almost always discretionary because you had to give up a lot of practicality.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    Fire sales of SUVs plus sub $2.00 gas can’t be good for Honda at the moment, but this moment will pass. The company’s products have the right bones for the road ahead. If the company would just integrate timeless design into its brand philosophy it would be absolutely deadly.

  • avatar
    danms6

    The fact that their best seller is an SUV doesn’t shock me nearly as much as the fact that someone would pay money to see this hideous thing in their driveway. Aztek be damned, the Pilot sure is ugly.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    jaje, again with the FUD. The Prius sold so much better than the Civic Hybrid because it’s much bigger for passengers, much bigger and FAR more useful for cargo, and gets much better mileage.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Honda had the technology but completely missed the boat on what Hybrid buyers really wanted – everyone else to know that they were driving a hybrid.

    People say this all the time as a way to disparage hybrid buyers, but it really isn’t all that true. Hybrid buyers want no compromises, which is why the best-selling models are also the most practical (Prius, Escape, Camry, Altima). You make few or no compromises and you pay a nominal fee for reasonable returns in fuel economy.

    The Accord, Malibu, Vue and GMT900 Hybrids all have the same problem: there’s no real market for a car with hybrid badges and little to recommend it over the base model. They all cost more, and they all suck more gas than conventional vehicles of the same interior volume.

    The Civic gets decent mileage, but at CAD$26K you’d be mad to buy it over a Prius. Sure, it handles better, but the number of green buyers who care is not large. Neither was the number of people who wanted a hybrid that can go 0-60 in 6 (Accord), or tow a boat (GMT900).

  • avatar
    gamper

    I went and shopped an Acura MDX a few weeks ago and was shocked to learn that a 2009 MDX had $6,000 on the hood in incentives. I really just wanted a test drive and didnt really have any intention of buying or leasing, but with those sort of incentives, it just made my shopping list. My point being, I have a feeling that Honda is likely providing a LITTLE unadvertised push to get those Pilots out the door if they are doing it for the MDX in such fashon.

    Very nice car by the way (the MDX), but with all the values out there it just doesnt stand out enough. Shocker of all my test drives so far was how much I loved the VW Toureg V8.

  • avatar
    CoffeeJones

    Dead cat bounce. I’m guessing CRV sales hit rock bottom before, so there’s only one way to go but up.

    40% drop in already suffering RL purchases.
    I wouldn’t mind owning a previous generation RL.
    I don’t care what Farago and friends say, I like it.
    But I’d like it for $30k :)

  • avatar
    autonut

    Here is the irony of life: as long as we have recession the price of gas will be low due to low demand. Once economy recovers a bit, Arabs, KGB colonels and South American oil dictators will want some of that green and prices of gas will shot up. SUVs are good for now, but what about later? Unfortunately for Honda, they can’t make as much on each Pilot as GM/Ford on their 40 year old trucks dressed up for soccer moms.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Jaje: Honda had the technology but completely missed the boat on what Hybrid buyers really wanted – everyone else to know that they were driving a hybrid. The Insight outsold the Civic handily even though it was no where near as practical or user friendly.

    You are way off — the Civic Hybrid has vastly outsold the Insight, which maybe peaked at about 2k units a year but sold only in the hundreds per year most of the time. The Civic Hybrid passed 60,000 total sales by last year.

    I’m sure you’re right that a lot of Yuppies want to be seen driving a hybrid, but I think an underappreciated factor is simply that, in a non-unique hybrid, it’s clear just how much the hybrid COSTS. People don’t get upset that a Prius costs more than a Corolla because it’s a radically different car model altogether. But a Civic Hybrid, Accord Hybrid, Ford Escape, etc, when the only difference between two cars is the hybrid power train, suddenly it’s painfully clear how much it costs to be green, and most won’t pay the price.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    People don’t get upset that a Prius costs more than a Corolla because it’s a radically different car model altogether.

    There’s also the fact that it’s between the Corolla and Camry in SIZE. If you compare to the Corolla, you have to realize you’re getting more (especially rear seat legroom, but also a lot more cargo space).

  • avatar
    Honda_Lover

    CR-V sales remain strong in the Puget Sound region.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Uh, wait a minute. The Pilot was the only model with a sales uptick, but it still isn’t Honda’s best seller.

    From the referenced press release November 2008: Civic 17,690 units, Accord 17,430, CRV 12,153, Odyssey 7,294 and Pilot 5,601. Pilot was up a few hundred units from November 2007, but still is towards the back of the pack in Honda’s lineup.

    Hybrids of all kinds are suddenly in massive supply with fuel back down to ~$2/gallon or less. I just received a Buy Now promotional email from Sunnyvale Toyota pushing $1-$2k discounts on new 2009 Prii with over 165 in stock.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Man do Americans ever have a short attention span. I wonder if they will enjoy their Pilots and SUVs after gas beings to rise again.

    Maybe the groups that are buying now are immune to the cost of fuel or will be able to absorb the losses if they sell their SUVs while gasoline prices are rising.

    Anybody know how much demand for gasoline has dropped? Has it dropped 50%? I didn’t think so. So a very small change in demand causes the prices to free-fall (relatively speaking from $5 per gal).

  • avatar
    geeber

    joeaverage: Maybe the groups that are buying now are immune to the cost of fuel or will be able to absorb the losses if they sell their SUVs while gasoline prices are rising.

    Honda buyers have some of the best demographics regarding income, education and credit worthiness, so, yes, they probably can afford both the vehicle and the cost of gasoline.

    joe average: Anybody know how much demand for gasoline has dropped? Has it dropped 50%? I didn’t think so. So a very small change in demand causes the prices to free-fall (relatively speaking from $5 per gal).

    I believe demand has dropped by about 3 percent; which is impressive, considering that demand usually RISES about 3 percent each year.

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