Despite speculation in recent years hinting at a possible exit from South Africa due to declining sales, Honda has confirmed its commitment to the local market by divulging details about models under investigation for possible introduction over the coming months.
With sales last year of 3 527 units, the automaker’s current tally of 1 577 for the year ending May amounts to an improvement of 117 compared to the same time in 2021, a figure it expects will rise as the year progresses.
Addressing the brand’s future on the side-lines of the new HR-V’s launch in Cape Town last month, Honda Product Manager for South Africa, Callon Locke, said a decision had been taken to focus on key segments rather than occupying each one without any visible traction.
He however stated that, despite the declining C-segment, plans are afloat to bring the new Honda Civic to South Africa, again only as a sedan with the hatch, excluding the incoming Civic Type R, remaining a no-no once again.
“Civic is such an iconic model for Honda – one that is basically engrained into our DNA. Globally, it one of the best-sellers, so what would South Africa be without the Honda Civic,” Locke said.
Confirming the incoming CR-V to be on the brand’s radar for 2023, but not the Thai-market City hatch sold in sedan guise as the Ballade due to possible price overlapping with the Fit, Locke hinted at the possibility of the Ridgeline bakkie becoming available, but only if approval is given for right-hand-drive production.
Limited to North America and Canada, the unibody Ridgeline has long been rumoured for other markets, most notably Australia, where the recent influx of locally converted US-market bakkies from Chevrolet and Ram resulted in Ford announcing right-hand-drive production of the F-150 for Down Under and nowhere else back in March.
“If Ridgeline does become available with right-hand-drive, then definitely (we will look into it). We have done studies with the US and Australia and at this stage it is a no, but hopefully, fingers crossed, one day in the future it will become available in right-hand-drive”.
Amidst recent confusion over the decision to rebadge the ZR-V as the HR-V in North America, and not introduce the moniker on the Honda SUV RS Concept widely tipped to replace the WR-V, Locke stated that while a final decision on the name has not been made, “there is going to be an SUV that will replace the WR-V”.
“It will be exported internationally and won’t be exclusive to India or South Africa, but will become a global model and exported to other markets, including Japan,” he said.
Ruled-out though is a flagship SUV above the CR-V in the guise of the North American Pilot and Passport due, again, to production taking place only in left-hand-drive.