Sat, Nov 15, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Honda looking to expand its share

BUILDING UP With the introduction of a revamped Accord sedan, the Japanese carmaker is hoping to grab 3.3 percent of Taiwan's car market this year

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Models show off a revamped Honda Accord at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Two years after ending its partnership with a dealer here, Honda Motor Co, the second-largest automaker in Japan, is planning to triple its market share in Taiwan by rolling out new models and expanding its distribution network.

The Tokyo-based automaker began its quest earlier this year through the launch of its CR-V sport-utility vehicles in January. Yesterday it launched its revamped Accord sedan.

"Expanding the franchised dealership network is the most important task for us. We still have ample room to improve," Fujisaki Teruo, president of Honda Taiwan Co (台灣本田), told reporters.

The Japanese automaker has 20 dealers here, up from five dealers when it rolled out the CR-Vs. Honda is in talks with another 10 dealers, with which it hopes to have signed deals by June next year, Fujisaki said.

The automaker used to be one of Taiwan's top five car sellers. It ended a four-decade partnership with Nan Yang Industries Co (南陽實業) early last year. Without Nan Yang's extensive dealer network, Honda's sales here fell dramatically.

With the gradual expansion of its dealership network, Honda hopes to increase sales to 13,500 cars this year, or 3.3 percent of the total, and boost its share to about 10 percent over the next few years, said Chen Chun-liang (陳俊亮), manager of the company's sales and marketing division. Chen declined to specify the timetable.

Honda has sold 8,500 CR-Vs in Taiwan this year. It is eying to sell 10,000 of the revamped Accord sedans within a year, said Wey Gow-jhy (魏國志), Honda Taiwan's deputy division manager of sales and marketing.

The two-liter Accord is priced at between NT$769,000 and NT$859,000. The three-liter model sells for NT$1.07 million. Despite fierce competition, the company said it had no plans to offer special discounts on the Accord.

"We're sticking to our pricing policy ... but we believe we can achieve our sales target easily," Wey said.

Honda makes both the CR-V and Accord models in its Pingtung factory, which has a capacity of 35,000 cars a year. To catch up with demand, the factory will operate around the clock starting at the end of this month, the company said.

Honda expects its factory to be running near full capacity next year after it set a target of selling 30,000 cars.

"Taiwan's car market will enjoy moderate growth next year, with sales rising to around 420,000 vehicles for the full year," Chen said.

Wei refused to comment about the possibility of introducing the popular compact car Fit to its product lineup here.

"It's too early to discuss this now. No conclusions about the introduction of Fit, or a timetable, have been made," he said.

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