Luxury Honda Accord sedan set for showroom return in 2019
THE Accord nameplate will return to Honda showrooms next year.
Honda Australia director Stephen Collins has committed to having the mid-sized sedan on sale by late 2019 and is working out how best to do that.
"We just think the Accord name has been in the market for decades, it's our flagship sedan and despite that segment continuing to drop, we think it is an important model. We've just got to make sure we can position it and price it so we can sell decent volumes," Collins says.
That's likely to mean a hi-tech, luxury focused vehicle and while Collins won't commit to which engine he'd prefer, he does concede the petrol/electric hybrid sold in the US would gel with that type of positioning.
Collins knows hybrids and electric vehicles will have their day but says that hasn't yet arrived in Australia.
"If you take hybrid and EV sales in the past year, private sales are just 0.6 per cent (of the market). In the longer term that will change with the mandating of CO2 (emission) targets.
"Globally Honda has got the cars to do it, be that hybrid, EV or hydrogen but there's a lot to play out in terms of policy in Australia before they become a realistic buy for most mums and dads."
Collins says the delay in landing the Accord is purely down to the fact there are no right-hand drive versions yet - the car was originally intended for the US and Chinese markets.
"There just isn't any right-hand drive production. That will change and we're likely to source our cars from Thailand."
A new Honda Jazz will follow in 2020 and is expected to be the first Honda to have its active safety software standard across the range. Honda plans to progressively roll the lifesaving technology out as new models and/or facelifts launch and expects all of its vehicles will use it by 2022.
In the short term Collins is hoping an update to the small HR-V in July gives it a decent lift in sales.
"It's a midlife facelift and I don't want to go into detail but it will have style tweaks and it will be a better drive," Collins says.
"Sales are up for the HR-V this year and it's tracking fourth in that segment. We're expecting this to give that a kick."
Collins says overall growth for the company is solid but says baby and large SUVs - and a pick-up - are on his radar.
"If you look at the past 12 months we've been ranked no 5 in private sales. In terms of the range we have I think we're comfortable with that but SUVs is clearly where the action is."
"If the Honda Pilot (large SUV) was made in Thailand and it was right-hand drive, I'd be front of the queue," he says.
"We evaluated WR-V (a sub-compact SUV) and really it's not suited for this market, it's for emerging markets ... but we continue to pursue a smaller SUV."