The current entry-level Accord Sport diesel model costs £19,350 but the new SE spec model due in the next couple of months will be cheaper – executives say it will come in at under £19,000. This will pitch the Accord at a much lower price than the entry-level Saab 9-3 TiD, Jaguar X-type 2.0D and Alfa Romeo 159 MultiJet.
The SE model will use the same 2.2-litre i-CTDi turbodiesel engine as the Sport, offering 140bhp and combined fuel economy of up to 51.4mpg.
Accord sales have been something of a mixed bag for Honda in the fleet market – last year, it recorded a 43% year-on-year fall but for the first three months of 2007 fleet sales are 60% up.
Harvey Hughes, Honda UK’s manager corporate operations, said: ‘The new SE diesel should open up more opportunities in the fleet market for us.
‘Accord sales started to pick up last April and fleet-specific offers such as the technology package that added items such as voice control satellite navigation and Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone system for a reduced price has helped.
‘So far this year, sales have been pleasing and expanding the range further gives us more of an opportunity.’
Honda is planning to grow fleet sales in 2007 by 17% over last year’s performance, which saw it sell 23,000 cars. It is also planning stepped growth to a target of 40,000 fleet sales by 2010.
Helping to push sales will be the new, cheaper Accord plus the new CR-V SUV and funkier versions of the Civic range such as the Type S and Type R sports models. Honda also expects to continue building sales of the Civic Hybrid saloon in fleets where environmental image is a key deciding factor.
Mr Hughes added: ‘The take-up for the new CR-V has been incredible. The order take is beyond our expectations and it has gained acceptance on fleet choice lists very quickly.’