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Toronto Star
July 10, 2004



A few years ago, it looked like nothing could stop Honda Canada. Fuelled by a strong reputation for vehicle quality and reliability in the marketplace, Honda had earned its status as a major player. Sales for the Japanese-based auto giant had grown significantly over a generation. Market share had climbed steadily. The company made some hot models. Its two assembly plants in Alliston, north of Toronto, boomed. Honda had even shot ahead of arch-rival Toyota in sales during 2002 after three record years.

But while its assembly plants have continued humming, Honda sputtered in Canada during 2003 and again in the first six months of this year. In contrast, Toyota has shifted into overdrive after a sales dip in 2000. It overtook Honda again in 2003 and has widened the gap this year.

Industry watchers and company officials attribute Honda's downturn here to two reasons - aging product and a lack of aggressiveness in the marketplace.

Other industry insiders add that Honda's bureaucracy in Japan and elsewhere has stymied decision-making that would help the company avoid trouble and enjoy better success in the marketplace. Sales of Honda and its luxury car division, Acura, in Canada reached a peak of 165,331 in 2002 but slid 6.4 per cent last year to 154,630. That mirrors the decline in the over-all market. In the first half of this year, Honda's sales dropped another 13 per cent to 77,771 from the corresponding 2003 period. That's worse than the market, which was down 3.9 per cent.

In contrast, Honda continues to perform well in the United States. Sales outpaced the market, jumping 8.1 per cent in 2003 and another 2.5 per cent in the first half of this year on continuing strong demand for Accord cars, Odyssey minivans and Pilot sport utility vehicles.

In Canada, Chris Travell, vice-president of the auto research group at Maritz Research, says Honda has become vulnerable because of a shortage of steady new model designs to attract motorists who generally drive different vehicles than Americans. For example, the intermediate Accord cars attracts a significant portion of the driving public south of the border but less so here. In Canada, motorists buy more small cars than Americans and that's where the competition is fierce.

"Honda is struggling here with a few aging products," Travell said. "But to their credit, they are reconfiguring their existing lineup to make it more appealing to Canadians." Honda spokesperson Jim Miller agreed new redesigned competing models have cut into Canadian sales of the company's flagship vehicle, the Civic compact. "What is selling in the marketplace is new," Miller said bluntly.

The Toyota Corolla and Echo, the Mazda 3, Pontiac Sunfire and a series of small cars from shave gained a significant share of the popular subcompact and compact segments. GM is increasing the competition by introducing the Chevrolet Cobalt to replace the long-running Cavalier this fall.

Honda has not redesigned the Civic compact since 2000. Consumers won't see dramatic changes until the fall of 2005. The Civic is still the country's best-selling car, but its popularity has declined in the last few years. In the first half of this year, sales slid 15.3 per cent. Travell said competing models are stylish, economical and priced low. Other Honda models have also lost some sales zip in the first half of this year. Business for the Accord plunged 19.2 per cent; the CR-V sport utility vehicle slid 17.5 per cent; the Odyssey minivan fell 11.6 per cent and the Acura MDX luxury sport utility is off 7.6 per cent.

But Miller, Honda's senior vice-president of corporate affairs, said most other competing models have declined along with the Accord in the slumping intermediate segment. The CR-V remains Number 2 in the compact sport utility category and the Acura MDX is still Number 3 in its segment, he noted.

Miller added that the Odyssey's popularity has waned because it is not as competitive in price with the segment's other big sellers, the Dodge Caravan, Pontiac Montana and Chevrolet Venture. But Miller said Honda has become more aggressive in incentives on the Civic and other models in recent months. "You're certainly going to see more of that," he said.

Miller acknowledged that Honda Canada became "complacent" in its marketing and incentives in recent years while competitors flooded the market with no-interest financing, cashbacks and free options.

Full Story Here

 

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Originally posted by stewacide@Jul 10 2004, 11:07 AM
I'm pretty sure I read in a number of places that the Mazda3 has passed the Civic to be the #1 selling car in Canada...
I don't doubt it. I love the Mazda3. I hope the Cobalt and revised Ion measure up to it.
 

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As you probably know, that's not really true. The best-selling car in Canada is a GM product, the J-body...and it's been that way for years.

With the Cobalt though, the Mazda3 will probably end up with the top spot.
 

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It's refreshing to get the non-USA perspective on things; it reminds me not to be so ethnocentric. Not surprisingly, things operate differently around the world. So could you ever imagine statements like the ones below being true in the USA?

"The... Pontiac Sunfire... gained a significant share of the popular subcompact and compact segments..."

"...Miller added that the Odyssey's popularity has waned because it is not as competitive in price with the segment's other big sellers, the Dodge Caravan, Pontiac Montana and Chevrolet Venture." The Montana and Venture forces in the minivan market?! Who woulda thunk?

As much as I'm a fan of the Domestics, and as much as I take a small amount of delight in this story, I cannot help but think that Honda will overcome this problem.

And I would prefer that these issues apply to the real threat: Toyota.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Jul 10 2004, 05:13 PM


As much as I'm a fan of the Domestics, and as much as I take a small amount of delight in this story, I cannot help but think that Honda will overcome this problem.

And I would prefer that these issues apply to the real threat: Toyota.
Actually, I think this pretty good, it forced Honda to build new cars which forces GM to build new competitve cars 7 or 8 model years later... but seriously, while not good for GM to have strong competition from Toyota, it is good for us the consumer because we get a better vehicle because of a tight marketplace.
 

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Honda is one of the top sellers in Canada, though. And I'm sure the 2006 Civic will once again be a sales leader.
Sorry, but the Cobalt sucks. Just look at it. Probably the worst thing to come out of GM since the whole "Americah Revolution" thing started. The interior looks cheap.
I'm a Chevy fan, but I do think GM needs to get serious if they wanna "revolutionize" the American automotive market.
 

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Originally posted by logansowner@Jul 11 2004, 01:38 AM
Actually, I think this pretty good, it forced Honda to build new cars which forces GM to build new competitve cars 7 or 8 model years later... but seriously, while not good for GM to have strong competition from Toyota, it is good for us the consumer because we get a better vehicle because of a tight marketplace.
Absolutely, though it still doesn't change the fact that I still root for certain players.
 

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Originally posted by alabamachevy1979@Jul 10 2004, 09:09 PM
Honda is one of the top sellers in Canada, though. And I'm sure the 2006 Civic will once again be a sales leader.
Sorry, but the Cobalt sucks. Just look at it. Probably the worst thing to come out of GM since the whole "Americah Revolution" thing started. The interior looks cheap.
I'm a Chevy fan, but I do think GM needs to get serious if they wanna "revolutionize" the American automotive market.
I like how you make conclusions on cars that are not even produced yet. Pretty silly if you ask me.
 

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The Canadian car market is similar to the US except people prefer smaller cars for the most part (although there are still lots of midsizes and full sizes on the road). The F-150 is still the #1 selling vehicle, and the domestic Big Three are still the domestic Big Three. GM still sells the most vehicles, Ford is the biggest brand, etc.

The biggest difference is the position of the Japanese. Toyota, Honda, and Mazda are all pretty much nack-and-neck, with Toyota's SUV-heavy lineup not helping them much (for whatever reason Canadians love huge pickups but not huge SUVs) - unlike the US where Toyota is huge, Honda is signifigantly smaller, and Mazda is almost nowhere. Mitsu' has almost no presense in Canada, having only come here a few years ago. Nissan is also marginal but growing fast (again, like Toyota their strentgh in large vehicles doesn't help them much in Canada).

I'm pretty sure I read once that Canada was Mazda's best market in the world (including Japan) - and in any case they seem to be pulling ahead of the other import brands. Strange since Mazda doesn't have any plants in Canada (given it's the #1 car it'd be great to see them move Mazda3 production here - those cars are EVERYWHERE).
 

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The only thing Honda has going for it at this point is its engines. Otherwise, Honda is really missing the mark in the styling department. The Accord just will not grow on me. Its a Civic in the front, a Lexus IS 300 from the side, a Sabb in the rear and retarded all around. Great V6 engine though. Do they sell that in Canada? I dont know but everytime I see one in America I wonder what the heck happened to Honda.
 

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Of course they sell the Accord here. The previous generations were much in demand although the current ugly duckling has not taken the market by storm like those earlier models did.

In the early to mid-80s Honda developed a near-mystical reputation here despite severe body rust problems earlier on. The reputation quickly spread that they were bulletproof and never broke (although the punishing dealer maintenance costs never seemed to get discussed). They built on that momentum and for many they are still an automatic or default choice despite their product stumbles of late. My experience is that mid-80s success made their dealer network very arrogant and difficult to deal with, which is a big part of why I never bought one.

The Canadian market is different from the USA market in many ways. I would disagree slightly from an earlier poster who said that we like smaller cars; while that may be true to an extent, my experience is that we like cheaper cars. Even in the 50s and 60s when Detroit ruled, the Canadian market was much more heavily skewed towards stripper models. Later on Lada and Skoda even had some minor success here, followed by Hyundai with their Pony model in the 80s, and that still holds true to an extent today. Even now low-end brands like Daewoo and Kia can enter this market and achieve sales success right away despite their reputations. It's all about price up here. Honda's gentrification has probably hurt them some because of that.
 

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Originally posted by ab348@Jul 11 2004, 12:58 PM
In the early to mid-80s Honda developed a near-mystical reputation here despite severe body rust problems earlier on. The reputation quickly spread that they were bulletproof and never broke (although the punishing dealer maintenance costs never seemed to get discussed).
It wasn't so much that Honda made a good car, but rather that it was contrasted against some really lousy cars from the Big 3. I remember my father's Chrysler wagon that rusted right out badly within a couple of years. Another thing they had going for them back then is the fact that they were cheaper to purchase. These days, the competition from the Big 3 are every bit as good as what Japan has to offer, and typically with a better price.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@Jul 11 2004, 05:23 AM
The Canadian car market is similar to the US except people prefer smaller cars for the most part (although there are still lots of midsizes and full sizes on the road). The F-150 is still the #1 selling vehicle, and the domestic Big Three are still the domestic Big Three. GM still sells the most vehicles, Ford is the biggest brand, etc....
Hmmm...

I was aware that GM continues to lead the market, as it does here in the USA. To my knowledge, the race for #2 and #3 is much closer: DCX trails Ford by a smaller percentage than it does in the USA.

And the list of the top ten is somewhat different than it is here in the USA, though sales figures seemed to be tallied a little differently (e.g., "GM front-drive minivans" and "GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup" are considered to be just two entries):

1. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
2. GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup
3. Ford F-Series pickup
4. Honda Civic
5. GM's front-wheel-drive minivans
6. Chevrolet Cavalier
7. Toyota Corolla
8. Ford Windstar
9. Ford Focus
10. Pontiac Sunfire

3 Minivans, 2 fullsize pickups, and 5 compact cars.

OH CANADA

By comparison, in the USA, the list looks a little differently in 2003:

1. Ford F-Series - 821,865
2. Chevrolet Silverado - 684,302
3. Dodge Ram - 449,371
4. Toyota Camry - 413,296
5. Honda Accord - 397,750
6. Ford Taurus - 300,496
7. Honda Civic - 299,672
8. Ford Explorer - 268,644
9. Chevrolet Impala - 267,882
10. Chevrolet Cavalier - 256,550

6 entries are different: no Caravan, GM front-drive minivans, Corolla, Windstar, Focus, or Sunfire on the above US list.

3 fullsize pickups, 4 midsize cars, 1 SUV, and 2 compacts.

USA'S TOP 10 VEHICLES
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Jul 11 2004, 08:31 AM
And the list of the top ten is somewhat different than it is here in the USA, though sales figures seemed to be tallied a little differently (e.g., "GM front-drive minivans" and "GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup" are considered to be just two entries):

1. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
2. GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup
3. Ford F-Series pickup
4. Honda Civic
5. GM's front-wheel-drive minivans
6. Chevrolet Cavalier
7. Toyota Corolla
8. Ford Windstar
9. Ford Focus
10. Pontiac Sunfire
If the Silverado and Sierra are listed together, and the Venture and friends too, it makes no sense at all to list the Cavalier (spot #6 in your list) and Sunfire (spot #10 in your list) separately. If you take a look at the actual numbers, your Top 10 would in fact be :


1. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
2. GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup
3. Ford F-Series pickup
4. GM's J-body
5. Honda Civic
6. GM's front-wheel-drive minivans
7. Toyota Corolla
8. Ford Windstar
9. Ford Focus
10. ? ? ?
 

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Originally posted by lio45+Jul 11 2004, 04:16 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (lio45 @ Jul 11 2004, 04:16 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-tgagneguam@Jul 11 2004, 08:31 AM
And the list of the top ten is somewhat different than it is here in the USA, though sales figures seemed to be tallied a little differently (e.g., "GM front-drive minivans" and "GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup" are considered to be just two entries):

1. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
2. GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup
3. Ford F-Series pickup
4. Honda Civic
5. GM's front-wheel-drive minivans
6. Chevrolet Cavalier
7. Toyota Corolla
8. Ford Windstar
9. Ford Focus
10. Pontiac Sunfire
If the Silverado and Sierra are listed together, and the Venture and friends too, it makes no sense at all to list the Cavalier (spot #6 in your list) and Sunfire (spot #10 in your list) separately. If you take a look at the actual numbers, your Top 10 would in fact be :


1. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
2. GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup
3. Ford F-Series pickup
4. GM's J-body
5. Honda Civic
6. GM's front-wheel-drive minivans
7. Toyota Corolla
8. Ford Windstar
9. Ford Focus
10. ? ? ? [/b][/quote]
Yes, I agree with you on the discrepancy, which is why I made a point to mention a few of the discrepancies: "... though sales figures seemed to be tallied a little differently (e.g., "GM front-drive minivans" and "GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado pickup" are considered to be just two entries)." For example, I didn't think it was too fair to compare the combined sales of the Sierra and Silverado to Ford's F-series.

Irrespective of the observation, the original point still applies, no?
 
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