Honda warns on emerging markets while aiming for record sales

Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:34am EST
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By Yoko Kubota

TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote) warned auto demand is cooling in emerging markets and especially Southeast Asia, but Japan's third-biggest carmaker remained upbeat about its prospects and said it aims to sell a record 4.5 million vehicles or more in 2014.

Honda said new, smaller models would help it to maintain strong sales growth in some key emerging markets like Indonesia and India where industry-wide demand has been ebbing.

Rising interest rates and currency worries have cast a shadow over the economic growth outlook in several emerging markets, which are key to Honda's aggressive expansion targets.

The company aims for emerging markets to account for half of the 6 million cars it plans to sell in the year to March 2017, up 50 percent from the 2012/13 financial year.

That will require Honda to nearly double sales in emerging markets, where it sold 1.6 million to 1.7 million vehicles in 2013.

"We were envisioning strong growth in India, Indonesia and Thailand to date," Executive Vice President Tetsuo Iwamura told reporters after an earnings briefing, "but we need to be a little bit more cautious." He added that in the long-term demand should still grow.

Honda expects industry-wide demand for cars in 2014 to drop 15 percent in Thailand and 3 percent in India. In Indonesia, it sees no growth, Iwamura said, although the company has bullish expectations for its own sales, buoyed by popular small cars.

In India, Honda aims to boost sales by nearly 50 percent this year and to nearly double sales in Indonesia.   Continued...

Visitors look at a Honda Motor Co's car displayed outside the company showroom in Tokyo April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino