Honda Frantically Cobbles Together a Plan to Get More SUVs Into Buyers' Hands
The skyrocketing popularity of utility vehicles in the U.S. marketplace has left Honda scrambling to catch up with the rapid change in consumer demand.
Production doesn’t turn on a dime just because more Americans want to option of transporting four kids, their stuff, and their sister’s dog. So, as it trims its sales forecast due to a car-heavy product mix, Honda has rolled out a plan to give buyers more of what they want.
It’s also prepared to use boats, if necessary.
According to Reuters, Honda is prepared to start importing some of its best-selling vehicles in order to boost volume. Rivals Toyota and Nissan have already taken this step to meet SUV demand that its domestic facilities just couldn’t meet.
Honda’s main focus is the best-selling CR-V. Production of the crossover should start up at its Greensburg, Indiana plant next year, boosting volume of a vehicle already in production in Alliston, Ontario and East Liberty, Ohio. The latter plant should begin production of the Acura MDX early next year. Meanwhile, Honda’s Alabama plant will take on the task on building the Odyssey, Pilot and Ridgeline.
While boosting domestic production would allow Honda to play catch-up, it might not be enough. The automaker sold 345,647 CR-Vs in the U.S. last year. Building new plants — an obvious but expensive solution — isn’t an appealing option, given the contracting state of the U.S. new vehicle market.
“While maintaining our current overall capacity (in North America), we’d like to also consider our production options in Japan … to produce more light trucks to respond to strong demand,” American Honda Motor Co CEO Toshiaki Mikoshiba told Reuters.
A Honda spokesperson has said the automaker is considering importing more CR-Vs and Civics from Japan.
For 2017, Honda’s CR-V gains a redesigned body and a turbocharged four-cylinder in uplevel trims.
[Image: Honda North America]
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" Production of the crossover should start up at its Greensburg, Indiana plant next year" Fantastic! Honda's got a whole slew of suppliers down that way as well (KYB, Keihin), happy to see their footprint expand. Too bad that hard-hit Anderson isn't seeing much of the action with all these Japanese transplants, my understanding is that they're all (rightly or wrongly) afraid of all of the union-affiliated workers in that area.