Honda Still Expects 25% 2012 U.S. Sales Gain After Sandy

Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s U.S. rebound will continue through 2012’s final months, helping the carmaker boost deliveries about 25 percent this year even after Hurricane Sandy reduced October gains, said U.S. sales chief John Mendel.

The company expects to deliver almost 1.46 million Honda and Acura brand vehicles this year in the U.S., up from 1.15 million a year ago, Mendel said in an interview on Nov. 16. Honda’s sales rose only 8.8 percent last month, compared with the 16 percent average gain of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Honda is the No. 2 Japanese automaker by U.S. sales.

“November will be a pretty good month for us -- I see nothing different in November and December that will change the course of where we’ve been this year,” Mendel said. Honda brand sales for the year should be “within 10,000 or 12,000 units” of 1.3 million, with the Acura luxury brand at “160,000, maybe a little bit more,” he said.

Demand for the Tokyo-based carmaker’s cars and trucks in the U.S., its biggest market, has been aided by a redesign of the CR-V crossover, restyled Accord sedan and record production at North American plants that were slowed last year by parts shortages stemming from natural disasters in Asia. Honda is counting on a modified version of the Civic, currently the top- selling U.S. small car, that goes on sale late this month to keep growth going into 2013.

The company’s shares slid 0.1 percent to 2,599 yen as of 9:52 a.m. in Tokyo trading today. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.2 percent.

Honda’s sales grew 22 percent to 1.17 million through October. Besides the Civic increase, CR-V is the top-selling sport-utility vehicle so far this year, and Acura recorded a 28 percent sales gain in the first 10 months.

Sandy Recovery

Sandy, the largest Atlantic storm in U.S. history, hit the Northeast on Oct. 29, bringing floods and cutting power to millions of customers in New York and New Jersey. As many as 200,000 new and used vehicles may eventually be replaced in the region as a result of the storm, the National Automobile Dealers Association estimated this month.

Industrywide sales in October fell short of the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg after Sandy slammed the East Coast during the industry’s busiest time of the month. Total U.S. light-vehicle deliveries rose 6.9 percent, below the 12 percent gain that was the average of nine estimates.

Carmarkers have said they expect to make up sales lost in October and replace thousands of new vehicles damaged by the storm.

“New York metro area lost a bunch of cars, but we’ve reallocated a bunch that were in transit,” Mendel said. “We’re doing everything we can to get those dealers up and running as quickly as possible, because it’s not just about the dealers, it’s customers. People there need cars.”

Honda’s U.S. headquarters are in Torrance, California.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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