Honda Frantically Cobbles Together a Plan to Get More SUVs Into Buyers' Hands

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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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  • Big Wheel Big Wheel on Nov 11, 2016

    My parents (in their 70's & 80's), aunt, & cousin all just picked up new 2016 CRV's last week. They called up the dealer together & said "what can you do for us to sell us three CRV's?" My parents got an SE & the other two were EX's. All three even picked up them on the same day & same time. These things sell like hotcakes. My aunt has had a string of trouble free Accord leases, & my parents have had a couple of Civics as second/third cars. We had a string of three Honda Preludes back in the 80's & 90's that I eventually picked up from them & absolutely loved. So this was an easy sale as they have gotten older. The usual CUV stuff is true: inoffensive styling (mostly), solid powertrain, easy entry/exit points, good visibility, good cargo area. My (younger) cousin just had a baby so she & her husband like the extra space (yes, I know you don't need a CUV just because you have kids). Haven't seen my parents SE yet. Will do that over Thanksgiving. Fortunately, my mom still has her BMW 335i xDrive for a bit longer for when she wants to hot foot it somewhere.

  • Gtem Gtem on Nov 11, 2016

    " 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.

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