Japan: affordable and sporty car becomes a hit for Honda image
Honda Motor Co., the third largest Japanese automaker has managed to sell out the entire production run for the year of its new S660 roadster – but the model has failed to spark attention among the younger buyers at home.
Honda has sold off the year’s production run of 8,600 units of the new roadster and was fully booked through June, but the issue with the model is that four in five purchases were made by customers aged 40 or more. The demographic is even older than most other models in its lineup and a large part of the customers of the S660 are actually repeat customers taking the affordable sports car home as their second vehicle, according to a company spokesperson. And it’s in stark contrast to the past sports car the make released back in 1999 – the S200 – when only one in four buyers were aged 40 or more. The older repeating customers go a long way to show how the brand has developed a strong, cult-like following of longtime fans, the younger buyers are needed to secure the carmaker’s prospects at home in the long run. And the problem is not particular to Honda. With leveling annual incomes and a very efficient public transportation system the young people in Japan have been dwindling on car ownership.
“It will be a big challenge for Honda to lure younger buyers,” comments Yoshiaki Kawano, an analyst at IHS Automotive. “If you compare the demographic feature and average income with 20 years ago, I would say the motivation for young people to buy such a car could be quite limited.” And the driver license holders below 40 years of age has dropped a steep 46 percent during the past 13 years. Honda expects the S660 to remain very popular among older people but also forecasts the younger audience will be gradually attracted by the affordable model.