Honda dealers clamor for more HR-V and Pilot crossovers

It’s a classic case of “Be careful what you wish for.”

Like much of the industry, the Honda brand rode a light-truck wave in 2015, with a 12 percent increase in truck sales that contributed to the brand’s record volume of more than 1.4 million vehicles.

But while Honda dealers had plenty to celebrate, they also were feeling squeezed by tight supplies of the most popular crossovers, said Bob Navarre, chairman of Honda’s dealer advisory board and owner of Valley Honda in suburban Chicago.

“Our challenges are really good challenges to have,” Navarre said.

Dealers are clamoring for more of the Pilot midsize crossover, redesigned for the 2016 model year, and the new HR-V subcompact crossover.

“That thing has been a home run for us,” Navarre said of the HR-V, which was launched in the spring of 2015. “We can’t get enough of those. We’d really like to have five times the production we have right now.”

Honda dealers are also keen to use the redesigned Ridgeline pickup to feed consumers who are hungry for light trucks. To them, the second-generation truck can’t come soon enough.

“We’d love to have our Ridgeline today,” Navarre said. (It’s due to begin arriving in dealerships this spring.) He’s also hoping a lower entry price — made possible by a new front-wheel-drive base model — helps grab more customers than the first generation did.

As for dealers’ product wish lists, Navarre said, retailers are always encouraging the automaker to take a look at potential holes in its utility-vehicle lineup. He notes the gap between Honda’s CR-V compact crossover and the three-row Pilot.

“It’s not hard to imagine an area like a Jeep Grand Cherokee,” Navarre said. “That might be something that’s worth taking a look at.”

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