Everyone likes to toss about sales stats to prove their bias for or against certain cars or brands, but they’re often quite misleading, as fleet sales skew those numbers, sometimes quite drastically. Only retail sales reflect what actual consumers are buying with their wallets, and when it comes to passenger cars, Honda is their first choice. Not only is it #1 retail passenger car brand, but in 2018 the Civic was #1 again for the third straight year, and the Accord was #2 in the second half of the year. And both have strong momentum in 2019.
And Honda has zero intent on abandoning the passenger car market, as they see it for what it is: the key entry point for new and young buyers. 55% of all first-time buyers buy passenger cars, and that jumps to 70% for Gen Z. Honda, along with Toyota and the other Asian brands, is quite happy to see the Big Three exit the passenger car market. Not only does that mean a bigger share for them, but also a much better shot at selling their car customers an SUV or truck in the future. Brand building, the way Honda has been doing it since…forever.
Does all that sound like the Big Three are painting themselves into something of a corner, even if it is a very profitable one?
Henio Arcangeli Jr., senior vice president of the automobile division of American Honda Motor Co., put it this way:
“What’s perhaps more unusual and important for us, however, is our cars. We all know the narrative: Cars are dead and dying. That’s certainly true for some, but not for us. Our story is a little different,”
“We’ve also been able to maintain a strong car presence, growing our share of this still roughly 5 million-unit market,” Arcangeli said. “But cars really matter for another fundamental reason: the future. Cars play a crucial role for Honda in attracting and retaining new buyers, particularly young buyers, millennials and Gen Z.”
“Why would we turn our back on those customers, which represent the future of our brand?”
Looks like it’s time to update my GM’s Deadly Sin #23: Name and Form