Honda Malaysia is still finalising its overall sales plans for next year but its City forecast suggests that it hopes to sell well over 36,000 units
HONDA Malaysia Sdn Bhd expects the all-new Honda City sedan to rake in sales of 18,000 units in the first 12 months, despite the current global economic downturn.
Managing director and chief executive officer Atsushi Fujimoto said the volume should account for about 45 per cent of the Japanese company's total sales in 2009.
Fujimoto said Honda Malaysia is still finalising its overall sales plans for next year but his City forecast suggests that it hopes to sell well over 36,000 units, a tough target given the current downturn which is expected to get worse next year.
For the whole of this year, company executives said Honda has reverted to its original target of 33,000 units, instead of 35,000 units revised a few months ago, before the economic crisis in the US and Europe deepened.
In the first 11 months, sales of Honda vehicles such as the Accord and Civic sedans and the CR-V sports utility vehicle grew 17.2 per cent to 30,888 units from 25,356 units in January to November last year.
During the period, Honda controlled 6.1 per cent share of the industry sales.
Elaborating on the City sales, Fujimoto said he is confident of achieving the target as the local motor vehicle market is in a better shape than its advanced peers.
"We are looking to sell 1,500 units a month.
"The market here is much better than in Europe, the US and Japan, which are all facing a slowdown in their car industry," he told reporters after the City launch in Kuala Lumpur last week.
Fujimoto said Malaysia's economy was not badly affected by the global financial crisis and that no retrenchment was being considered by Honda Malaysia although its factory in Pegoh, Malacca, is facing lower demand for certain car-related products.
"Malaysia has a safe and stable financial system. Honda Malaysia will not call for any retrenchment or cut its operations," he said.
The company manufactures driveshafts, besides assembling some Honda models at the Pegoh plant. But demand for the driveshafts in most of its 11 export markets, including European countries, has markedly dropped in line with shrinking car sales there.
The all-new City, in its third generation, is available in two variants - the grade S version sells at RM84,980 (on-the-road price with insurance) and the grade E at RM89,980.
The grade S offers essential features of the 1.5 car, while Grade E offers additional features such as paddle shift, rear reclining seat, rear underseat tray and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The new City is powered by the new i-VTEC engine and is the first in the 1.5-litre car segment to come with the five-speed automatic gear transmission.
Honda City was first introduced in 1996 in response to the growing needs for affordable cars among Asians, in tandem with the economic growth in the region.
It has become a strategic model for Honda, together with the Civic, Accord, CR-V and Jazz. The car's cumulative sales passed one million units as at late May.
In the first 11 months of this year, some 8,000 units of the "old" City were sold in Malaysia.