In 2011, Honda sales suffered a major setback with the twin disasters of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan and the severe floods in Thailand. But as is often said, such tough periods can make one stronger after that and when 2012 began, Honda Malaysia set a course not just to make up for the 27% loss in sales the year before but to aggressively grow its volume and capture a bigger market share.
Recalling that period, Honda Malaysia’s Managing Director & CEO said: ”Three years ago, Honda Malaysia set a mid-term strategy to elevate our business to 100,000 units and started our preparation for enhancing the competitiveness of our products, increasing production capacity and expanding our dealer network.”
To increase sales called for a new investment in expanding the capacity of the plant in Melaka, the first expansion since it began operations in January 2003. A second line was quickly built and at the same time, fresh new products were added to the locally-assembled line-up.
From then on, sales kept rising and periodically, Honda Malaysia would announce a new sales record for the month or for a model. The products that became available were extremely well received and priced right.
For 2014, the company set a sales target of 76,000 units and the popularity of the new City was so great that even that target was surpassed by 1,485 units. In fact, Honda models were dominant in the popular segments in Malaysia, with the exception of pick-ups which the company does not sell.
The 77,485 units delivered translated into an 11.6% share of the overall market size of 666,465 units. This was an increase of 3.7% from the 7.9% share in 2013 and more than double that of the share in 2011 – a most impressive performance within just 3 years.
But even more impressive, Honda finished the year as the No. 1 brand in the passenger car segment after Perodua and Proton. Though it was the first time in the history of Honda Malaysia (which was established in 2000), the brand had that leadership position during the 1990s as well.
“This success was made possible with the support and trust in the brand from Malaysian customers,” Mr. Ueno said.
He said that the new City and Jazz contributed accounted for nearly 70% of Honda’s sales last year, with both models being best-sellers in their respective segments. At the same time, the CR-V and Accord also continued to be best-selling models in their segments.
Well aware that a rapid increase in sales and the growing number of new Honda owners will require after-sales support, Mr Ueno said that Honda Malaysia will also expand its network of dealers nationwide. “Currently, there are 77 dealers in Malaysia and we are targeting to have 90 dealers by 2016, with an increase in the number of Body and Paint Centres to 18,” he said.
For 2015, which is going to be a tough year for the industry, Honda Malaysia aims to increase its market share to more than 12%, with a sales target of 85,000 units. “We are ready to challenge ourselves to maintain the momentum from 2014,” declared Mr. Ueno.