Forecast: American Honda Plans To Sell 40,000 Civic Hatchbacks Per Year
As 2017 Honda Civic Hatchbacks roll off ships on the Atlantic coast of North America, we’ve learned that Honda expects to send 40 percent of the company’s Swindon, England, Civic assembly plant output to North America.
In an article discussing the launch of the European-market Civic Hatchback at the upcoming Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, Automotive News Europe says 20 percent of Civic Hatchback production will remain in the United Kingdom. Another 40 percent will head to the rest of Europe. ANE also says the United States “will take 40 percent of the 120,000-unit annual production, the company predicts.”
Long live the crossover? Honda’s about to put another 48,000 hatchbacks on North American roads.
American Honda already intends to sell the Civic Hatchback to a different group of buyers than the Civic sedan and coupe already attract, believing there’s little chance for cannibalization based on the company’s internal customer clinics.
But when we asked Honda to provide deeper insights into potential Civic Hatchback popularity late last month, the automaker was not yet prepared to share such product planning details.
After confirming with the writer of the ANE article, Nick Gibbs, that “U.S.” refers to North America as a whole, we can use the current North American sedan/coupe sales breakdown to predict that American Honda plans to sell 40,000 Civic Hatchbacks per year. Canada, an inordinately strong market for the Civic, would then produce roughly 7,500 annual Civic Hatchback sales, with a handful potentially left over for the Mexican market, where Honda sells fewer than 900 Civics per month.
Representatives for American Honda and Honda Canada declined to confirm the report.
If American Honda is correct and the Civic Hatchback won’t eat into Civic sedan and coupe demand, and if Honda sustains the current high level of Civic demand in 2017 — two big ifs — just under 10 percent of the Civics sold in the United States next year would be hatchbacks.
There’s no shortage of competition for a Honda that could justifiably be considered stylistically challenged. There are already hatchback variants of the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza, and Kia Forte. The Scion iM becomes the Toyota Corolla iM for MY2017. The Volkswagen Golf is all hatchback all the time. We now know what the next Hyundai Elantra GT will look like. The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback’s pricing was announced in June.
Without the hatchback, the Honda Civic is America’s second-best-selling car through 2016’s first eight months thanks to a 15-percent year-over-year improvement through August.
[Image: American Honda, © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.
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This sounds like an attempt to deal with Honda's excess capacity problem in Europe, not a plan to target some kind of under-served niche or pent-up demand in North America. The numbers are largely a byproduct of backing into the production issue. If this doesn't work, then Honda will have to find some other way to fix its Europe problem.
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