One-Third of Early HR-V Buyers New to Honda

DETROIT – Honda is buoyant over early sales of its new HR-V subcompact CUV.

“We sold nearly 7,000 HR-Vs in the first two weeks on the market, in the last two weeks of May,” John Mendel, executive vice president-American Honda, tells media here.

To be exact, Honda delivered 6,381 HR-Vs in May, WardsAuto data shows.

The Japanese automaker also is pleased that one-third of those initial HR-V buyers are new to the brand and not coming from Honda’s larger CR-V midsize CUV.

“(We’ve been asked): Was this going to cannibalize it? Well, we sold exactly what we did with CR-V last year, which was well over 30,000 units, so no cannibalization there,” Mendel says of the bigger CUV’s 32,090 May deliveries.

While Mendel says the HR-V sold better than any other model in the segment, WardsAuto segmentation places the Subaru XV Crosstrek in the same Small CUV group as the HR-V. The Subaru was May’s best-selling small CUV, with 7,876 sales.

However, the HR-V did exceed the May deliveries of two almost-as-new competitors, the Chevrolet Trax and Jeep Renegade, which tallied 5,707 and 4,416 units, respectively.

The XV Crosstrek was the No.1-selling B-segment CUV last year in the U.S. by volume, with 70,956 deliveries.

That’s roughly the same annual volume Honda is targeting for the HR-V. Mendel says despite brisk initial demand, the automaker isn’t upping its HR-V target to 14,000 units per month or 160,000 per year.

Still, the automaker is anticipating the new small CUV could sell better and has shifted some of its Fit subcompact-car production out of its Celaya, Mexico, vehicle-assembly plant to a Honda plant in Yorii, Japan, to make room for more HR-V builds.

The HR-V is one of a number of new Honda products launching this year and next.

The next-generation ’16 Honda Pilot 3-row CUV is debuting this month, while later this year an all-new 10th-generation Civic will go on sale in the U.S.

Early next year Honda will debut the long-awaited second generation of its Ridgeline compact pickup, and at an unspecified time next year retail a redesigned Odyssey minivan.

The Honda brand also has slated a next-generation version of its hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle for 2016.

By 2018, two new advanced-technology models, a battery-electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid model, will launch in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Mendel says the supply of replacement parts related to the massive Takata airbag recall is increasing. Honda is the automaker most affected by the Takata recall.

“We’re working mightily…we’ve invested in suppliers to (find alternatives), bringing on Autoliv and things like that,” he says of sourcing from other airbag suppliers. Honda also is relying on supplier Daicel for replacement parts, as well as Takata itself.

“Moving forward I think it’s all hands on deck to try and get this accomplished as quickly as possible,” Mendel says of getting replacement airbags installed.

Honda last week confirmed a seventh Takata-airbag-related death occurred in one of its vehicles. Kylan Langlinais, a 22-year-old Louisiana woman, died in early April after her ’05 Civic struck a utility pole. The car’s driver-side airbag deployed and sprayed metal fragments from a ruptured inflator toward her, severing an artery in her neck.

Honda says a recall notice for Langlinais’ airbags was sent three days prior to the crash.

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