Every time a new version of a car is introduced sales are expected to spike. That, however, is not the case with the all-new 2012 Honda Civic with American Honda Motor Co. sales boss John Mendel warning dealers in a memo that supply will be “severely restricted, with limited availability of certain models.”
Due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the document sent to dealers states that production of the new car will, “be at significantly reduced levels at least during the summer months.” As a result, some industry experts are predicting that instead of the usual spike for a new model, Civic sales could drop below the 2010 figure of 260,000 units.
“With an all-new and improved model, Honda of course targeted to sell more,” says Christina Ra, Manager Honda Public Relations. Unwilling to speculate on exactly how much the restricted supply could damage sales of the Civic, Ra did admit that, “Obviously, if a customer really needs to make a purchase, wants the Civic and can’t get it… there are choices that must be made on the customer’s part.”
While serious problem for any car in any year, this could hamper momentum on the new Civic and hurt its long term success in an increasingly competitive market. Hyundai’s new Elantra is off to a strong start and while Honda used to be able to count on a lack of competition from domestic automakers, both Ford’s new Focus and the new Chevy Cruze are both credible threats in the marketplace.
With supply limited due to production, and not demand, the imbalance between dealer inventories and customer buying habits could cause prices to rise. Ra was unwilling to comment on how dealers will react to the admitted imbalance between supply and demand, instead commenting that as independent entities they would be left to govern themselves.
No indication was given on if availability of particular Civic models could be more affected by the shortage.
The good news, says Ra, is that, “there is a tangible end in sight,” with Honda’s goal of normalizing production by the end of the year.
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