No, not just because American buyers open their wallets for anyone hawking a high-riding vehicle; rather, because an influx of cash would help stabilize Honda’s balance sheet.
The automaker’s global profits took a 40 percent haircut in the fiscal quarter ending December 31, with net income falling 71 percent in the same time frame. North America wasn’t a fiscal fortress, either. While a new crossover that straddles segment boundaries
isn’t the cure for all that ails Honda, it’s anything but hindrance.
The blows impacting Honda were thrown from many quarters. Warranty costs and sales expenses, combined with shrinking margins and falling car sales, hurt the company in the past quarter, Automotive News
reports. A rising yen erased potential profit, too, while a water-damaged plant in Mexico reduced the North American supply of Fit subcompacts and engines bound for the Honda Insight (itself built in Indiana).
Operating profit fell 53 percent in North America last quarter, and the automaker now expects to take a 34 percent hit to its global net income by the end of the fiscal year.
While Executive Vice President Seiji Kuraishi claimed during an earnings call that his company doled out steep incentives to sell down the outgoing CR-V, one model alone probably doesn’t account for the projected 21 percent increase in per-vehicle incentive spending in January 2019. Data from ALG shows Honda with the steepest year-over-year increase in incentivization. Still, this hood cash ($2,132) is low for the industry, and represents a decrease of 2.4 percent from the previous month.
What Honda needs is a calmer global landscape with no major hiccups, and strong-selling models. The reborn Passport seen recently on these digital pages may not excite the senses, but looks built to sell. Basically a slightly shortened Pilot with greater off-road chops, the Passport is a two-row crossover designed to gobble up buyers in a hazy middle ground while offending no one with its styling. Can we call that sub-segment “lower midsize”?
Though Honda claims the Passport won’t hit dealers until Monday, some 126 Passports can already be found on the company’s January sales sheet. Overall, the automaker’s sales rose 1.5 percent, year over year, in January, with the Honda brand recording a 0.8 percent gain. Acura saw a 9.6 percent volume increase, helped along by strong RDX sales (which now eclipse the flat-selling MDX midsizer).
Interestingly, the MDX sold exactly as many units in January as it did a year prior: 2,968 vehicles. The RDX, however, saw its popularity grow by 40.9 percent.