Can American Honda Really Sell 2000 Civic Type Rs Per Month?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

It’s going to be a while before you can buy a next-gen Honda Civic Type R in North America.

We’ve seen the relatively thinly veiled version of the next Civic. Patent images were published on TTAC last week. But, according to AutoGuide’s Colum Wood, American Honda’s Executive Vice President, John Mendel, told reporters after the New York Auto Show that the Civic Type R won’t appear here until at least 2017. “It could be an ‘18 by the time it gets here,” Mendel said.

Clearly, the pricing scheme for the Civic Type R is many months away from being revealed, let alone determined. Yet the most interesting revelation from Mendel wasn’t about the wait, but rather the number of Type Rs Honda believes the company can sell in the United States each month after the car arrives.

“I’d hope we could sell a couple thousand a month,” Mendel said, a number which – in current terms – would have accounted for approximately 8% of the Civics sold in America in the first-quarter of 2015.

Sound high?

Sales figures for many direct Civic Type R rivals aren’t made public. Ford, for example, doesn’t isolate Focus ST numbers from the overall Focus’s monthly tally, nor are the Focus RS’s figures likely to be discussed.

Subaru, however, has averaged nearly 2200 WRX/STi sales over the last 15 months. Granted, those are combined numbers, not completely dissimilar from a Civic Si/Type R combo. Volkswagen’s latest edition of the Golf R is only now being launched. 478 were sold in March, the Mk7 Golf R’s second month on sale. Over the last nine months, VW USA averaged 1816 monthly Golf GTI sales.

However, the Impreza on which the WRX and STi are based and the Golf that’s used as a foundation for the GTI and R don’t compete in the same league as the Civic family. The Civic is America’s second-best-selling small car. The Impreza is, at best, a moderately high-volume car. Even at its current fast-growing clip, the Golf is a low-volume compact.

Through the first-quarter of 2015, the WRX/STi accounts for 32% of all Impreza sales. The GTI outsells the diesel and gas-powered Golf, though only by a slim margin.

A sampling of current sales figures of potential CTR rivals

Two questions come to mind. One, is there space in the hot hatch market (yes, the WRX/STi are sedan-only) for 2000 more monthly sales from a new entry? Two, even with the Civic hatch originating in the UK, does the overall Civic family’s breadth and popularity potentially make 2000 monthly sales a small matter?

As always, it’ll come down to price. Subaru USA manages to sell more than 2000 WRXs and STis each month with base prices around $27,000 and $35,000. The GTI is only slightly more value-conscious than the WRX; the Golf R is slightly more dear than an entry-level STi. Honda will have the advantage of offering the newer, brighter, flashier thing, a thing we haven’t been able to own in North America before.

The very fact that American Honda wants to sell around 2000 Civic Type Rs per month suggests the price point may indeed be in the affordable realm, which could be some of the best news enthusiasts have received in quite some time.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

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  • Carlisimo Carlisimo on Apr 23, 2015

    During the ‘90s they absolutely could have sold that many Type Rs. The 1997 model had 182hp to the Mustang GT’s 215hp – not as bad a difference as today, and there were significant weight and handling advantages. In the early 2000s it would’ve been a little more difficult because hatches were going out of style and the EP hatch looked a little awkward. From the mid 2000s onward, probably not. The 2006+ model was an excellent car, but horsepower numbers were rising across the industry and those make the compromises of a FWD chassis more noticeable. But we’ll see. If it gets here soon enough it’ll be on my short list.

  • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on Apr 24, 2015

    What turned me off from the Si the most is that it will be forever associated with the "VTEC just kicked in, YO!" crowd.

  • Geozinger Put in the veggie garden (Western Michigan, we still can get frost this late in the year) finished the remainder of the landscaping updates and hand washed both my beater Pontiac and the Town and Country! Going to the beach today...
  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
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