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Honda To Build More CR-Vs

Honda Motor Co. announced recently the increase in sales of its CR-V sport utility vehicle. Alongside the rise in sales is the surge in demand. And Honda is poised to meet customer demands by building more CR-Vs.

Last year, the CR-V overtook Ford Motor Co.?€?s Explorer as America?€?s best-selling sport utility on sales increase of approximately 29 percent.

In 2007, the second largest Japanese automaker sold over 219,000 CR-Vs. Sales for the Explorer, meanwhile, dropped 23 percent to just under 138,000 units. The decline is attributed to the dive in sales of traditional sport utilities which customers in the U.S. have shunned in favor of crossovers.

According to Reuters, the automaker is targeting overall U.S. sales growth of 2.5 percent this year even as industry-wide sales of cars and light trucks in the U.S. market decline for a third consecutive year. "Most probably CR-V should be in line with that," said Tetsuo Iwamura chief of Honda's North American operations.

"There is lots of room for the CR-V to grow," Iwamura said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. He added the Japanese automaker would free up more American production capacity for the said sport utility. This will be done after Honda shifts production of its Civic sedan from its East Liberty, Ohio, plant to an Indiana plant, which is still under construction.

Iwamura suggested that Honda had room to support sales if needed by adding targeted incentives on the CR-V, which he said was gaining ground because of a desire by U.S. consumers to "downsize" their vehicle choices. "Right now we are selling with no incentives. Zero," added Iwamura.

The sales projections of the automaker could put it on track to yield over 10 percent market share in America. If that happens, Honda will be crowned the second import brand after another Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp.

Experts say the weak link of Honda is its Acura luxury brand. Sales of Acura in the U.S. plummeted almost 11 percent in the previous year. Iwamura said Honda expected that revamped version of its TL and TSX sedans would allow Acura to recover back to its 2006 sales level of 201,000 units this year. For 2009, Honda is readying a clean-diesel Acura model and in future years will expand the line-up of the luxury brand to take it into segments where it has not yet competed, he added.

The maker of Honda CR-V custom parts is readying two new hybrids ?€" an affordable sedan and a hybrid sports car.

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