19 June 2014

Honda Europe's In A Hole

The first generation Civic was cute and fun

It's hard to know what the top brass in Honda are thinking. Once a brand known for small, fun little cars to one that now does conservative. For car buyers in Asia and North America, conservative is obviously good as sales are solid there. In Europe and Australasia it is not a good thing, as sales flounder.

Honda's European market share for January to March 2014 was 1.1%, down from 1.2% in 2013 for the corresponding period. In 2007 it was 2.0%. One reason I suspect for the fall is the weak market conditions in the region. While competitors often discount to keep their sales up, Honda refuse to do so. So penetration is poor and slipping.

Another reason is making the cars eco-friendly is the company's priority, rather than sporty to drive. In Europe that is not the way to sell cars. It is known as a brand for older people, retired and conservative. The Honda Civic hatch is a rare example of an exciting looking car they are capable of designing. Yet the driving experience doesn't match its appearance.

That's a shame as they have well engineered cars, but its lack of excitement has put Honda Europe in a hole. They need to rediscover their love of motoring and the brand is crying out for enthusiastic direction from the management in order to achieve that. They will realise the need to change, but conservative thinking must be overcome first. Honda is "The Power of Dreams". More dreaming is required.

The 2014 Civic Tourer. A fine vehicle, but will it be a strong seller?

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