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As sales lag, Honda exec derides competitors' short-term tactics

Despite overall sales that are trailing the industry

Despite overall sales that are trailing the industry average, Honda said Accord and Civic sales remain strong and outpace similar models from competitor car brands. Credit: Honda

Honda Motor Co., lagging behind the pace of U.S. auto sales this year, said its flagship Accord sedan, Civic compact and CR-V sport-utility vehicle dominate in sales to individual buyers.

Excluding rental and business-fleet sales, which Honda eschews, Accord topped Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry, the U.S. passenger-car volume leader, with 181,939 deliveries in the first half, Honda said, citing IHS Automotive data.

Camry retail sales were 178,183, according to IHS’s Polk. Honda, which doesn’t have a fleet sales unit, also isn’t using subprime lending or loans with durations as long as seven years to boost business, John Mendel, executive vice president of U.S. sales, said today on a conference call.

“In addition to a heavy reliance on fleet sales to boost volumes, we are seeing some of our competitors adopt short-term tactics to stoke sales, like big jumps in subprime lending and 72-month terms,” Mendel said, without naming specific companies. “We have no desire to go there.”

Honda, fifth in U.S. volume, had a 1.3 percent drop in sales of Honda and Acura brand autos this year through July, while industrywide deliveries expanded 5 percent. The Tokyo-based company attributes the slowdown to the delayed release of its redesigned Honda Fit hatchback and Acura TLX sedan, both of which were due in the first half of 2014.

Honda avoids large-scale fleet sales as a long-term strategy to maintain resale values for its models that rank among the industry’s highest.

Along with Accord and Civic topping Toyota’s Camry and Corolla as the best-selling cars in their categories to individual buyers, Honda’s CR-V sport-utility vehicle ranks as the retail leader among SUVs and has the most total sales of any SUV in the U.S. for the 10 years through June, the company said.

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