By on September 4, 2018

Image: Honda

It’s nothing new in the industry, nor is it at all uncommon, but Honda’s distinctly balanced product mix continues to tip ever further towards the trucks and SUV side, despite the assertion of American Honda’s assistant VP of sales, Ray Mikiciuk, that cars will continue as the brand’s mainstay.

With the same number of selling days as August 2017, last month showed the automaker’s volume on the upswing, propelled by the strength of light truck sales. In keeping with the theme of balance, only one mainstream car saw its sales increase, year over year, while only one light truck model saw its sales decrease.

(We’ll have a breakdown of how all automakers and brands fared later today, once all the numbers roll in – Ed.)

Overall, American Honda’s sales rose 1.3 percent, year over year. Hardly a barnburner of a month for the automaker, but the folks at Acura are no doubt celebrating — the luxury brand saw sales rise 14.8 percent, year over year, while Honda itself was generally flat. This puts Acura close to crawling out of the red on a year-to-date basis.

Naturally, it owes it all to SUVs, of which Acura fields just two. MDX sales rose 38 percent in August, year over year, while the smaller RDX climbed 23.8 percent. Year to date, the MDX falls just slightly in the red (0.8 percent) compared to the RDX’s 9.6 percent gain. Elsewhere, the combined volume of the ILX, NSX, RLX, and TLX fell 22.8 percent, with only the low-volume RLX seeing a monthly gain (up 66.4 percent, to 138 units for August.)

2019 Acura RDX

In the Honda ranks, all cars except the Clarity hybrid/PHEV/EV, which had barely registered on sales charts in August of last year, took a dive. Civic sales fell 24.1 percent and Accord sales tumbled 11 percent, with the TYD volume for both cars down 7.5 percent and 11.4 percent, respectively. The Fit shed 47.5 percent of its buyers, year over year.

Interestingly, the recently launched Insight hybrid sedan sold better than even the best-selling Acura car, with 2,212 sales in August compared to the TLX’s 1,917 buyers.

As for crossovers and the brand’s lone pickup, good news reigned. Only the subcompact HR-V saw a year-over-year decrease in sales (2.4 percent), while the CR-V rose 11.8 percent, the Odyssey minivan climbed 13.5 percent, and the newly refreshed Pilot expanded its takers by a whopping 60.2 percent. Even the uniquely unibody Ridgeline pickup recorded its first year-over-year increase (7 percent) this calendar year.

Going back to the see-saw image, passenger car sales at both brands declined 15.3 percent last month, while light truck sales rose 18.9 percent. The performance of both vehicle types was nearly identical between brands.

[Image: Honda]

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22 Comments on “Tipping the Sales Scales: Honda’s Light Trucks Continue Filling the Hole Left by Cars...”

  • avatar

    Yet they’re gouging their customers, long term or otherwise, on Civic Type R’s. In theory that shouldn’t sell. It’s a car and a manual transmission AND a hatchback with low ground clearance.

    • 0 avatar

      Define “gouging”?

      Because “manufacturer sets a price you wish was lower” won’t suffice.

      • 0 avatar

        I would define “gouging” as a price over MSRP, usually massively more. I was quoted a lease of $880 a month with 7,500 down and 12k miles a year by one dealer. I would define that as “gouging.” You can Google it and find more stories. All for a car that should not even be in demand per the logic here.

        • 0 avatar

          Gouging is in the eye of the beholder, but if you’re going to blame someone, blame the dealers.

        • 0 avatar

          Why would anyone possibly incentivize a lease on a car that has a waiting list? I don’t think you understand how leasing works. It’s not an Encore.

          There are many, many folks who have bought CTR’s at MSRP.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I understand how leasing works. I leased two new vehicles from Honda Finance in the past. The lease payment should be based on the negotiated price of the car, the money rate, and the residual value of the vehicle at the end of the lease term.

            When the dealer quoted me $880 with $7,500 down I asked them to supply the 3 factors they used to determine the payment and they refused. That led me to believe they were trying to gouge. After all, the lease payment on my 2015 Accord was around 235 a month, and that was with no money down.

            I just find this behavior odd on a vehicle that should be completely undesirable according to the common wisdom. I just don’t understand it.

          • 0 avatar

            Buying the car over a three year term should have cost less than that. I leased a $60K+ car for about $4k down and $714 a month. The residual was less than the difference between total outlay and MSRP. I could have bought the car for more than 10% less than MSRP with three years free interest. There’s no reason for Honda to fluff Civic Type-Rs as if they’re German garbage, but interest rates haven’t changed enough since 2012 to justify pricing reflecting a negative residual value either.

          • 0 avatar

            It would be way cheaper to buy it outright – if you could get it at MSRP, which you can’t.

            I don’t know. As the owner of two new Hondas in the past plus one brand new Acura RSX Type-S (I leased that car through Honda Finance too so actually I’ve leased three Hondas) that put a really bad taste in my mouth.

            I could have leased a brand new M3 with the Competition Package for similar money. And not only did the dealer put a bad taste in my mouth, but Honda did too buy not building enough of the cars to meet the demand. It’s almost like they’re intentionally crapping on enthusiasts.

        • 0 avatar

          I have a 2016 Accord lease that is about to end, I did visit 2 Honda dealers, both refuse to give me a good deal on a 2018 Accord, it surprises me just because the last time I replaced my 2014 Accord, both dealers kept calling me to get me me a deal I wanted.
          It does not sit well with all the news I read about slow sales of sedans, specially the Accord.
          So far, I went to a Toyota dealer, they are willing to lease a Camry for 270 a month, zero down! Honda is asking for that amount and 2000 down!

          • 0 avatar

            Because Honda sets the RV very low and MF at market rate, and have no lease incentives.

            It’s as simple as they don’t want people leasing. They want people buying. And if they do lease, Honda Financial doesn’t want to eat any money on it like GM, Ford, FCA, Infiniti, BMW all do with their ridiculously high RV’s, huge lease incentives and almost zero MF.

            I’m shocked that they even have a lease program on the CTR. In fact I really doubt that they do. I’m guessing it was through a third party bank.

          • 0 avatar

            Things must have changed since 2015 because my lease on my Accord was really cheap, as they were on the other two Honda leases I had.

            I just think they made up the terms on the CTR lease in hopes that I’d be stupid enough to pay it. That’s why they won’t supply the basis of how they determined the payment.

            I don’t know what people are actually paying for these but my guess it’s substantially more than MSRP. For a car that theoretically should not be popular. And I bet if I went in looking for a CRV, I would have walked out with a very cheap lease on one of the many they had in stock, just as I did before.

            That was my point of bringing it up.

  • avatar

    Honda is selling crossovers, not trucks by any stretch of the imagination.

    • 0 avatar

      With about the only cuv down, HR-V doesn 2.4%, Honda is not even selling in the hottest segment as competition is setting in and stealing sales.

      Or else they are forcing the them to near $30’s and people are just settling for CR-V.

    • 0 avatar

      Most of us agree unilaterally that CUVs =/= trucks, but the EPA and various tax codes see it differently.

  • avatar

    Actually, I think I’ll go in and show the “Type R Specialist” (yes, this is a thing) this article and this website’s articles pronouncing the car and manual transmission dead. Once they see that, I’m sure I’ll be able to get this undesirable manual hatchback for 3k under invoice. Thanks!

    • 0 avatar

      Then you can buy a cheap Porsche 911R, or get a massively depreciated last-of-the-line gated-shifter Ferrari. Manual gearboxes are going away because of the 1d1ot tax we’re paying for Obama’s election. If you understand how the EPA emissions test works against manual transmissions, you’ll understand why propagandists have been telling us nobody wants them.

      • 0 avatar

        The take rate on manual transmissions outside of enthusiast trims/models has been in decline for a long time (probably the 80s, but I don’t have the numbers to prove that), even when the automatic was an extra-cost option.

        This is market economics at work.

        • 0 avatar

          “The take rate on manual transmissions outside of enthusiast trims/models has been in decline for a long time … This is market economics at work.”

          This. The idea that somehow the fading popularity of manual transmissions is a politically-motivated conspiracy is patently false. I love my current car’s manual transmission, but when I recently drove the 6-speed MT of one new car back-to-back with the same car equipped with a 10-speed automatic, I came away knowing that I would not choose the manual transmission. If anything, the propaganda I heard at the time in the automotive press was that the 6-speed was the better driver’s car – but that was not borne out by my test drives.

          • 0 avatar

            The take rate has been in decline at least in large part because they haven’t been made available. The number of cars available with them has declined rapidly and even with cars that still offer them, it is difficult to find one at the dealer.

            I think this website has an agenda and that’s fine. Most media outlets do. Why? Well, the automakers have an incentive to simplify the supply chain and sell cars faster and for higher prices. They have a further incentive to simplify their EPA certification process. Selling homogeneous products is cheap, fast and efficient.

            Is that a conspiracy? I don’t know, I guess it depends on how you define that term. All I know is it’s short-sighted business that is eroding any enthusiasm for cars. That’s going to come back and bite them, particularly makes like BMW who had their reputations built by our now apparently unimportant niche.

  • avatar

    Hey Honda, if you’re serious about *cars* why not a new Prelude. Or an S2000. Pretend the market trends just don’t matter; just build something fun. Remember when your engineers built a Formula One car just for the he!! of it?

    Take the Accord, pare it down to the bare minimum (2+2, doesn’t have to be roomy), tune your turbo 2.0 to “11”–and see if it draws a crowd.

    (And, please, do not let the guy who designed the Civic hatchback anywhere near the studio.)

  • avatar

    I’m sure Honda dealers across the US will refuse to make any sort of deal on Accords & Civics because they think anything goes (price-wise) with their brand, regardless of how bad sales are within a certain segment. My last few trips to Honda stores have been complete debacles. I’ve pretty much crossed them off my list of brands I’d consider buying, and it’s all due to their dealers’ douchebaggery.

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