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April of 2011. That was the last time Honda had grown sales in this country before January, when the company turned in an 8.8 percent improvement that included both a 9.3 percent increase for the Honda brand and a new January sales record for the brand-new Honda CR-V.
For John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda, it’s a direct result of expanded vehicle availability in this country: "Honda's return to full strength on the manufacturing front is already beginning to pay dividends on the sales floor. On top of kicking off 2012 with record January sales for the new CR-V, it's gratifying to see how many Civics we can sell when we actually have Civics to sell. It's great to see customers embrace this great vehicle now that our dealers have enough cars on their lots."
Specifically speaking, the Honda Civic enjoyed a 49.5 percent sales jump in January on deliveries of 21,883 vehicles—making it the best-selling compact in America last month. And keep in mind that none of the Civic’s in-segment rivals—which include such luminaries as the Chevy Cruze, VW Jetta, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra—sold more than 18,000 units. Honda must certainly see this as a redemption of sorts for the Civic’s redesign; although not much loved by the critics, the car clearly scored with customers last month.
As regards the CR-V, the bottom-line showcased 18,960 sales, representing a 16 percent advance over the same month last year.
But the second-fastest grower in the Honda lineup in January was the Honda Ridgeline, reaping a 45.6 percent jump in sales. True, this only translated into 1,245 vehicles, but it’s interesting to note that, with the Ridgeline included, all six of the industry’s current smaller pickups enjoyed double-digit sales leaps of more than 24 percent.
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Alas, things weren’t so rosy for the rest of the Honda crew, and it was the automaker’s greener vehicles that take most of the blame (well, either that or the buying habits of U.S. customers). Sales of the Honda hybrids looked like this in January: Honda Insight, -68.3 percent; Honda CR-Z, -59.4 percent; and Civic Hybrid, -31.2 percent.
The figures for the rest of the company’s portfolio:
• Honda Fit—Down 11 percent on sales of 3,839 units, the Fit still outsold the Ford Fiesta by more than 300 vehicles.
• Honda Accord—Up 1.5 percent in January, with a relatively weak 13,659 sales, the Accord can attribute some of its performance to the fact an all-new model is coming later this year.
• Honda Odyssey—Sales of 6,898 units, a slip of 1.8 percent compared to January 2011; it was the No. 2 minivan in the country last month, but more than 1,000 deliveries behind the segment-leading Dodge Caravan.
• Honda Crosstour—A meager 921 sales that were 40.8 percent below the Crosstour’s mark last year. Perhaps the coming four-cylinder models will help.
• Honda Pilot—The Pilot, despite its 2012 refresh, endured a 5 percent drop in deliveries and finished with 6,365 sales last month.
• Honda Element—Headed off into the sunset, the Element did manage 3 sales in January.
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