Although Honda’s chief operating officer for North America says the carmaker does not talk about taking the top spot as a goal, its mainstay Honda Civic is poised to become this year’s number one compact in the region as evidenced by sales figures for the first two months of 2012. In January and February 2012, Honda Civic sedans and coupes posted a 45% year-on-year increase to 48,970 units, outselling rival models Corolla of Toyota Motors Co. and Chevrolet Cruze of General Motors Co.
Tetsuo Iwamura, Honda’s COO for North America, said the company now has enough capacity to make Honda Civic the best-selling compact.
The Honda was deeply hit in 2011 due to US supply problems apparently caused by the Japan earthquake and negative reviews.
But now, Honda is back in the game. Iwamura said that when competitors take a shot at the Civic, Honda will now have “enough ammunition to shoot back.” The COO reaffirmed Honda’s business philosophy of having very good acceptance and high customer satisfaction instead of aiming for the best seller title. This philosophy is also what sparked Civic into the top spot in years before 2002, when it was finally overtaken by rivals.
In 2011, Civic was behind Corolla and Cruze, according to Autodata Corp. After its parts supply base and engineering centre in Japan were shell-shocked by the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disasters, Honda decided to shift some of the production of the Civic in North America.
As result, Honda’s North American sites increased their production output by 63%, enough to regain sales in the United States. The company assembled 84,678 Civics at plants in Canada and Indiana in the first two months of 2012, compared to 50,056 units produce in the same period in 2011.The company’s output for all Honda and Acura cars and light trucks in North America soared 36% to 301,564 for the first two months of 2012.