Friday, May 20, 2011

Honda Gives Assurances to U.S. Dealers

DETROIT—Honda Motor Co. told its U.S. dealers Friday that July vehicle deliveries would increase by 11% from June levels and accelerate in August as the auto maker ramps up production after the March 11 earthquake in Japan.

American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel said in a memo that its sales continued to "run at a relatively soft pace" despite what the company considers decent inventory levels, albeit lower than year-earlier levels.

"Many of you have indicated that it is due in large part to concerns for inventory going forward," Mr. Mendel said.

Honda follows Nissan Motor Co. in efforts to encourage its dealers to continue driving deals to gain customers despite a murky outlook for vehicle inventories this summer. Both auto makers and Toyota Motor Corp. had to stop production in Japan for several weeks following the earthquake, and all continue to face shortages of electronic components, LCD screens and rubber.

U.S. sales for Honda rose 10% last month compared to 18% for the overall industry.

"It's interesting to note that although our total inventory is down versus May 2010, we have more CR-Vs, Pilots and Fits in dealer inventory now than we did a year ago," Mr. Mendel said.

"With this level of inventory, coupled with competitive incentives focused on vehicles with sufficient availability, you all need to continue to push hard on the sales front."

Last week, Nissan asked dealers to be more aggressive and go after Toyota and Honda, which it deemed vulnerable.


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