Honda Cars Philippines Inc. expects to post a flat sales growth for this year after experiencing a decline of 17 percent in 2008.
“This year we will have a flat growth rate. City sales are expected to increase but the other models are not expected to fare as well,” Honda president and general manager Hiroshi Shimizu said.
In an interview at the sidelines of yesterday’s launch of the all new City at the Glorietta Activity Center, Shimizu said the market for expensive Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) and luxury cars is shrinking because of the current global economic crunch.
Last year, sales of Honda went down by 17 percent to 14,298 units. For this year, Shimizu said the sales are expected to be almost the same as the 2007 figures.
“The growth in the sales of City will be offset by the decline in sales of the others,” he explained further.
In line with the expected drop in demand, Shimizu said the Japan based firm said they will not be investing further in the country this year. “We have just spent P140 million for the new City. I think that would be it for the year,” he said.
On the upside, Shimizu said that there will be no lay offs for Honda workers despite the expected industrywide slowdown in automobile sales.
“There will be no lay-offs,” he stressed. According to him, in the near future Honda is not even contemplating on reducing the work week to four days in order to save money.
The all new City, which was launched yesterday, is expected to contribute much to the company’s sales figure. The target is to sell 7,000 units this year or about 600 cars monthly.
The entry of the third generation City completes the company’s all i-VTEC line-up.
“Honda ushers 2009 by introducing a new model that shall play a significan role not just in the local but international market as well. As a testimony of Honda’s confidence in local manufacturing operations and commitment to the Philippine government and Filipino people, the much anticipated City shall continue to be manufactured at our plant in Sta. Rosa Laguna,” Shimizu said.
The City is priced between P676,000 to P806,000.–Elisa P. Osorio, Philippine Star