Honda Motor Co. may just have solved its demand dilemma in the U.S. with the arrival of the new HR-V crossover. With unexpected sales of 6,381 units only in the first two weeks and before its advertising campaign has even started, things are definitely looking up for the automaker. This figure is triple what other automakers are able to achieve in one month with a new model in the segment.
This has caused Honda to rethink its options on how to meet the demand for the HR-V, a taller twin to the Fit subcompact. From the start of the year through May, the CR-V had been the top-selling crossover. The auto market had benefited from lower gasoline prices and the sales pace has been its fastest over the past ten years.
Judging from how the HR-V is performing, Honda is confident that smaller models will be able to sustain sales even when gas prices go up. In an interview, John Mendel, executive vice president of Honda’s U.S. sales unit, said that people will consider this small crossover as the “ultimate hedge against everything.”
He also thinks that this car will be “a home run” for the brand. Honda had been on track to have its worst year in a decade. The automaker needed the HR-V to do exceptionally well. Through May, the brand’s market share in the U.S. was on pace to decline for the third straight year. The HR-V is known as the Vezel in Japan.
Along with the Fit, this crossover struggled because of numerous recalls. These obstacles (including problems last year with opening a new plant for the Fit in Mexico) forced the delay of the HR-V’s launch in the U.S. But today, Honda is seen by the Bank of America Corp. as the automaker in the best position to increase its U.S. market share through 2019.
Earlier this month, the bank’s “Car Wars” report emphasized that Honda has replaced vehicles that make up 96% of its present delivery volume and so it will have the youngest lineup from the 2016 to 2019 model years. The HR-V is ideal for those who find the CR-V too big for their needs and the Fit too small. The HR-V has a starting price of $19,115.