Honda South Africa intends to expand its dealer network and product lineup in 2003, says managing director Masahiro Matsushita.

Honda South Africa intends to expand its dealer network and product lineup in 2003, says managing director Masahiro Matsushita.

“Honda SA is committed to re-launching the Honda brand in South Africa,” Matsushita said at the launch of the Accord Type S and Civic 150i five-door hatchback on Tuesday. “In the two years since we first started our business here (before then Honda was distributed by DaimlerChrysler), we have focussed on building up our dealer network and providing quality service to our first customers”.

“I want the Honda customer to be aware that Honda exists in South Africa to provide world-class service for them,” he added.

Honda South Africa currently has 19 franchisees (dealers), which are situated mainly in urban areas. “In total, we have concluded 22 franchise agreements and Honda SA hopes to have about 24 dealers by the end of the year,” Graham Eagle, the divisional manager of Honda SA’s automobile unit, said. “New dealerships will be soon be opening in Pretoria (Menlyn), the West Rand and Port Elizabeth”.

Hikes in the interest rate, high inflation and a weakening currency had a detrimental effect on buyer demand last year, and the majority of manufacturers and/or importers failed to meet their sales targets for the year. Honda SA was not an exception, but even though the importer had to increase its prices by 19 per cent, the company sold more than 1 500 units last year, Eagle said.

“The Accord was the fifth distinctive body style Honda SA launched in the past two years,” Matsushita said, adding that the Jazz would play a crucial role in boosting the company’s sales in South Africa.

CARtoday.com reported recently that the Jazz outsold the Toyota Corolla on the Japanese market last year… Honda’s compact car is due to be launched in South Africa by the middle of the year.

As for the Accord, Honda SA intends to sell between 20 and 30 units per month (between 150 and 200 a year). Honda South Africa spokesman John Laurence said the Accord’s primary role was to raise the profile of Honda as a luxury, sporty brand in South Africa - not necessarily to achieve high volumes. But the importer would add additional variants to its lineup if there was sufficient demand.

In addition, “Honda SA was studying bringing back the S-2000 sports car with improved features,” Matsushita added.

Original article from Car