US: Honda says its strength lies in retail sales image

The Japanese automaker, which lost share in recent months on the US market, has moved to signal it doesn’t rely on low-margin fleet sales or subprime lending to artificially enhance delivery numbers.

According to Honda, which cited data from IHS Automotive, if rental and business-fleet sales were excluded, its own Accord model would be in front of Toyota’s best-selling Camry, with retail sales of 181,939 cars in the first six months of the year. The Camry, which is America’s best-selling passenger car had retail deliveries of just 178,183 units, data sourced from IHS’s Polk division.

“In addition to a heavy reliance on fleet sales to boost volumes, we are seeing some of our competitors adopt short-term tactics to stoke sales, like big jumps in subprime lending and 72-month terms,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of US sales at Honda. “We have no desire to go there.”

“We probably should care and differentiate between retail and overall sales, because retail sales are generally much more lucrative,” said Jack Nerad, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “That’s why Honda is so adamant about this.”

For the period through July, industry wide deliveries rose 5% on the US market, while Honda’s namesake brand and the Acura premium unit dipped 1.3%. The Japanese automaker, fifth overall in the US, blames the slowdown on the later than expected release of two important models – its Fit (Jazz) subcompact and Acura TLX sedan.

Via Bloomberg