HONDA Malaysia will launch 3 all-new models as well as one updated model during 2023 with the aim of achieving a total sales volume of 80,000 units. With the Malaysian Automotive Association forecasting a Total Industry Volume of 650,000 units for this year, this would give Honda a 12.3% market share.
The target is similar to that of 2022 but last year, it exceeded the number by 290 units to take a share of 11.1%. The achievement kept Honda in the No.1 position in the non-national passenger car segment (which excludes pick-up trucks and commercial vehicles) for the ninth consecutive year since 2014. During the year, the brand also recorded its highest ever sales in Malaysia with more than 10,500 units delivered nationwide.
Speaking to the media at an event recently, Honda Malaysia President & Chief Operating Officer Sarly Adle Sarkum said that as part of the company’s strategic business direction, it will launch a new model in an entirely new segment during the third quarter of 2023.
“This will be Honda’s first small SUV [in Malaysia] and it will also be the first small SUV from a Japanese a Japanese mass market manufacturer,” he said. Honda Malaysia has a strong presence in the SUV segment which now accounts for a third of all new vehicles sold in Malaysia. The addition of another model in a new segment would broaden its reach and target a new group of customers to bring them into the Honda family.
Although Encik Sarly did not reveal the model, it is known to be the WR-V, already launched in Thailand earlier this month. With a length of 4060 mm and width of 1780 mm, the WR-V would be going up against the similarly sized Perodua Ativa, which would put Honda in direct competition with the national carmaker for the first time.
It should be interesting to see how Honda Malaysia prices the model. Years earlier, when asked if Honda would want to bring in the Brio to compete against Perodua, this writer was told that it was not keen to do so as Perodua had ‘certain advantages’ which Honda could not have. But these days, the protectionist policies may be scaled back and furthermore, Perodua is also stronger and more capable of facing foreign competition.
The WR-V also fills a slot in the local Honda range with the BR-V being discontinued. The 7-seater crossover has been popular but probably not generating the sort of volumes expected. 13 years ago, Honda Malaysia also tried to sell the Freed MPV and discontinued it after just a few years due to low demand. The BR-V has managed to remain on sale a bit longer, having been launched in 2017.
As for the other two new models, they will likely be the new 11th generation Accord and 6th generation CR-V, both of which have been launched in America during 2022. So 2023, which will be Honda’s 75th anniversary, looks like it’s going to be a busy year for the brand in Malaysia.
“To further strengthen the core identity and brand presence in the industry, we will focus on leveraging three key pillars for our models – Advanced Technology, Premium Offerings and Sporty Appeal. The combination of these three key pillars will make the upcoming Honda models even more unique in the market and elevate their status in their respective segments,” Encik Sarly said.
He added that the company will be strengthening its hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology offerings in Malaysia. The company was the first to introduce HEV models 19 years ago and also the first to assemble a HEV model (the Jazz Hybrid) locally. The technology has advanced to what is now known as e:HEV and available in a number of locally-assembled models.
While the government is focussed on battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and providing significant incentives, it is also giving consideration to HEV models. Encik Sarly said that the industry has been in discussion with MITI to obtain support for HEVs as well since such vehicles should also be considered part of the electrification trend which aims to help make the country carbon-neutral by 2050.
“Electrification is the global trend and future of mobility for the automotive industry. Honda believes that the hybrid technology is the right approach at this point of time, particularly in Malaysia. We want to ensure Malaysians’ needs are being fulfilled with the most practical and relevant technologies before fully adopting the fully electric BEVs,” he said.
Anticipating continued growth in the customer base, Honda Malaysia will introduce the concept of 2S (Service and Spare Parts) Pit Stops as an aftersales approach. This will ensure that owners are able to get their vehicles serviced promptly, something which some companies overlook as they push for greater sales numbers that result in more new vehicles needing aftersales services.
The Honda CONNECT system for safety, security and convenience will be offered with more models besides the City RS, City Hatchback RS, Civic RS, Civic e:HEV RS and HR-V e:HEV RS. In addition, the HondaTouch platform will be upgraded to enhance the experience for Honda customers by making it more convenient and accessible.
To find out more about Honda products and services, and to locate an authorised Honda showroom, visit www.honda.com.my.