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Honda Targets U.S. Sales Record With New Accord, Civic

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co. is targeting record sales for the U.S. this year, supported by revamped Accord and Civic models and building on a 24 percent rebound in 2012.

The company’s best year in the U.S. was 1.55 million Honda and Acura vehicles in 2007, Tetsuo Iwamura, the Tokyo-based automaker’s executive vice president, said yesterday in Detroit.

“We wish to exceed that,” he told reporters at the North American International Auto Show. “We are trying to challenge for record sales.’”

Japan’s third-largest automaker relies on the U.S. for more than one-third of its global sales and was hurt in the market in 2011 after natural disasters in Asia disrupted production. Output at the company’s North American plants rebounded last year, to a record 1.69 million Honda and Acura autos. U.S sales in 2012 climbed to 1.42 million.

The company expects to report 2012 global sales of about 4 million cars and light trucks, Iwamura said.

“I’m very happy,” Honda President Takanobu Ito said, referring to the company’s recovery from production setbacks and poor model reviews a year ago. “Here in North America we think this is a chance to strengthen Honda’s presence and grow our business,” Ito said yesterday at the show.

‘Political Problems’

Honda unveiled at the show a concept “urban” utility vehicle based on its Fit small car. The model, not yet named, will go on sale in Japan late this year and in the U.S. in 2014, Ito said. It will be produced at a factory in Celaya, Mexico, that opens next year, Honda said.

Separately, Ito said the company’s sales are recovering in China amid the country’s dispute with Japan over territory in the East China Sea.

“Unfortunately in 2012 there were political problems that led to a slowdown in our sales there,” Ito said. Honda’s sales in China have returned to about 90 percent of the level prior to the onset of the dispute, he said.

“We’re seeing a recovery trend and are following original plans,” Ito said.

Honda rose 1.2 percent to 3,420 yen at 11:25 a.m. in Tokyo trading, extending this year’s gain to 8.7 percent. The stock rose 34 percent last year.

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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