HONDA Cars Philippines remains upbeat over its prospects despite difficult business conditions. It even sees sales growing by 10-percent this year from a decline of 17 percent last year.
Hiroshi Shimizu, the company’s president and general manager, said their projections were in line with the industry’s view that car assemblers here would not be hurt as badly by the global financial crisis as those in other countries.
“There is no drop in sales volumes yet so the effect is not so serious,” he said.
The company yesterday launched its new City after investing P140 million for its assembly line including tools, jigs, machines and model development costs.
“With the new product, we expect an increase in sales of more than 10 percent over last year. Last year, sales dropped by 17 percent with the sales decline for the Civic, CR-V and the Accord,” Shimizu said.
Honda sold about 14,300 units last year.
Shimizu said the City was the only full model change for the year, but added the company would launch minor model changes in the coming months.
He said the company was projecting annual sales for the 2009 City to increase to 7,000 units from 5,000 last year.
City and Civic, Honda’s biggest selling models, are the only ones assembled locally. The rest of the model lineup, including the CR-V, Accord and Jazz are imported as completely built-up units from Thailand.
Completely knocked down production last year hit 11,000 units. City’s production volumes should be double that of the Civic this year. Together, the two models account for 65.5 percent of Honda’s total sales.
Shimizu also said there would be no layoffs among the company’s 677 workers.
Speaking at the launch, Trade Undersecretary Elmer Hernandez said the City was one of the most successful passenger car models registered under the Motor Vehicle Development Program, which is being administered by the Board of Investments.
“It is very encouraging that Honda Cars continues to upgrade its production models despite growing pressures on profitability in the global auto industry,” Hernandez said.
He said there was no better time for auto manufacturers to fully understand consumer needs than today.
“The only way to sell in a down market is to deliver the right products to the consumer, products that offer real value for money,” Hernandez said. –Elaine Ramos Alanguilan, Manila Standard Today