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Honda Sees Something American Automakers Don't

Sales / 12 Comments

And they probably really should.

Like all mainstream automakers with a full lineup of crossovers, Honda is making big bucks these days in the light truck segment. But unlike automakers, such as those hailing from Detroit, Honda's traditional car sales are doing just fine, too. Specifically, Gen Z and first-time buyers seem to prefer a general preference for sedans, coupes, and hatchbacks. GM, Ford, and FCA, however, are in the process of exiting the traditional car market to focus more on trucks, SUVs, and future tech such as EV and autonomous cars. But Honda still believes in bread and butter models like the Accord, Civic, and Fit, according to Henio Arcangeli, Jr., senior vice president of the automobile division of Honda North America.

"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," Arcangeli told Automotive News last week at an event in Detroit.

Although we recently reported that Accord sales have gone down in recent months, Honda still maintains an impressive vehicle mix of 47.5 percent cars to 52.5 percent light trucks while the market in general runs about 30 percent car to 70 percent light truck. Not surprisingly, Honda has even picked up some car share recently as well. Is it because Ford is phasing out the Fiesta, Focus, and Fusion while GM is doing the same for the Chevrolet Impala, Buick LaCrosse, and Cadillac XTS? Perhaps, although those Ford and GM vehicles typically don't compete with Honda's car lineup. So why is Honda still sticking with traditional cars while Detroit is nearly abandoning them?

"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," Arcangeli continued. He also points out crucial data Honda has compiled that shows over half of first-time buyers of new vehicles opt for cars, "not an SUV, minivan, or pickup." Interesting.

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Honda's biggest Japanese rival, Toyota, has also gone on record to state it's committed to cars as well, such as the Corolla and Camry. Both have recently been redesigned and appear to be selling quite well.

"Why would we turn our back on those customers, which represent the future of our brand? We're dominating the front door with new buyers, with cars playing a critical role," Arcangeli said. "Gen Z today is still a relatively small share of the market, but it's growing daily, and Honda is in the early lead."