Fleet News

UK manufacturing base helps Honda boost fleet sales by 50%

FLEXIBLE production at Honda's Swindon factory coupled with a 'buy British' phenomenon, is boosting fleet business for the manufacturer. The Japanese company has seen total UK sales up 15% this year, from 34,604 units in the first six months of last year to 39,746 this year, but fleet business has soared by more than half to 15,946 giving Honda a 3% market share.

Much of Honda's success has been built on the arrival of the five-door Accord which is built at the company's Swindon plant alongside the Accord saloon, Civic five-door, Civic Aerodeck and CR-V.

The new Civic will debut at next month's Paris Motor Show ahead of UK sales beginning in January next year, with three- and five-door models being built in Swindon, alongside the CR-V and Accord. In 2002 a new small car, which will replace the Japanese-built Logo in the Honda line-up, will also be built at the Wiltshire plant.

Within two years, Swindon production will have increased from the present 100,000 units a year to 250,000 when the second plant, now under construction, reaches maximum output.

Honda's corporate sales chief, Nicholas Phillips, said: 'Production can move from one model to another so we are able to protect residual values. We do not, and will not, produce cars which remain unsold in compounds for long periods.

'By adding CR-V to Swindon production, we are adding another weapon to our fleet attack. At the same time by not over-producing Civic and Accord we are protecting their residual values.'

'If production is flexible we can switch volume on and off according to different model requirements and that gives us a built-in residual value protection system. I can guarantee the strength of residual values on long-term fleet business.'

Despite persistent concern among vehicle manufacturers at the strength of the pound, Phillips said Honda was 'absolutely committed' to vehicle building in the UK to meet the demands of customers Europe-wide.

And, he added: 'Established British businesses want to support us. Building a significant number of cars in the UK - particularly for the fleet arena - is winning sales.

'We are detecting a buy British phenomenon, particularly among manufacturing companies. It is not huge but there is a feeling among some fleet customers that they should buy British-made vehicles. They understand the investment Honda has made in the UK and appreciate the skills of the workforce.'

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