Yes, Honda Sales Are Down, But Key Hondas Aren't

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

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.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

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  • Bd2 Bd2 on Aug 21, 2014

    Honda does its core lineup very well (aside from a few minor missteps).

  • Kvndoom Kvndoom on Aug 22, 2014

    Well since this is the most recent Honda thread, just throwing this news out there. A factory supercharger (warranted) is now available for the CR-Z. Saw it on LLN yesterday. Fixes that car's most pronounced deficiency. Of course, dropping a K24 under the hood from day one would have been cheaper, easier, and more sensible. It's $5500, which is perhaps not worth it on a new CRZ, but since used ones (6MT only) with not a lot of mileage can be had for under 15K, someone could throw together a Honda Hot Hatch for a respectable sum. The 2015 Accord configurator is out, and the 6MT V6 coupe can now be purchased in white! I'm pumped for this news because my 2011 was white and the whole red/black/gray thing was just sad. Regrettably the I4 coupe is still the Model T, and more regrettably I can't afford a new car. :(

  • Lou_BC "respondents between 18 and 80 years old" Basically anyone deemed an adult who might be allowed to drive.
  • Lou_BC They will do fine if they come up with some cool sedans ;)
  • Mister They've got their work cut out for them. I live in a large metropolitan city of 1.2+ million people, the is a single Mitsubishi dealer. It's really more like a used-car dealer that sells Mitsubishi on the side. With the remarkably cheesy name of "Johnny Legends".
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh WHAT !?
  • Jeff Matt--I think this is a good move for Mitsubishi to expand their presence with satellite dealers. I had a 85 MItsubishi Mighty Max and my sister had a 83 MItsubishi Starion. MItsubishi needs to add a compact pickup to compete with the Maverick and the Santa Cruz but offer it for less. A smaller more affordable truck will sell. I believe MItsubishi should still offer an inexpensive subcompact like the Mirage it will sell in a slowing car market with high msrps. Yes I know the Mirage is probably going to be canceled but I believe in these times it is a mistake and they should reconsider cancelling the Mirage. Toyota is having problems selling the new redesigned Tacomas and Tundras with the turbo 4s and 6s. Most Tacomas have MSRPs of well over 40k. There is room for MItsubishi to grow their market share with more affordable vehicles. I am not saying Mitsubishi is going to overtake Toyota, Honda, or Nissan but they should take advantage of the more affordable market segment that these companies for the most part have abandoned. MItsubishi doesn't have to be the biggest just increase sales and become more profitable.