Honda sees sales set record for March, Accord sales lag

Honda’s total U.S. auto sales grew nearly 4 percent to set a new record in March, but the company’s flagship Accord that’s made in Marysville continued to move more slowly off dealership lots.

The automaker saw total sales of 142,392 vehicles last month. The gains were largely driven by truck sales, which saw a boost of 7 percent.

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Honda is one of the region’s largest employers. More than 1,400 people from Clark and Champaign counties work there and the manufacturer employs more than 14,000 Ohioans overall.

Sales figures released this week show total sales grew 3.8 percent compared to March last year. But Honda’s total sales are down a little less than 1 percent compared to the first three months last year.

“Honda’s deep truck lineup helped the brand to a new March record, while Honda cars continue to pull their weight despite current market forces,” said Henio Arcangeli Jr., senior vice president of the automobile division and general manager of Honda Sales in a news release.

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March was a good month for other manufacturers as well, said Stephanie Brinley, an auto analyst for IHS Markit. GM and Toyota also had solid months, she said, while Ford and Nissan reported sales declines.

Auto sales overall are expected to be solid this year but decline compared to recent record-breaking years.

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“It still remains that 2018 is expected to be a robust year for U.S. light-vehicle sales but the decline will keep pressure on for automakers to focus on quality of sales versus quantity,” Brinley said. “Those with older product lineups are more likely to struggle with this pressure more than those with new products to launch during the year, as new products help generate buzz that can translate to sales health later.”

Despite gains in trucks sales and a boost for the Civic, other traditionally strong models for Honda saw sales decline last month. Sales of the Accord dipped 10 percent compared to March last year. The sedan is assembled in Marysville and was named the 2018 Car of the Year earlier this year.

The Honda CR-V sport utility vehicle, one of the auto maker’s most popular models in recent years, also saw sales dip 3.1 percent compared to March last year. Honda is adding production of the CR-V to the Marysville plant this summer in order to keep up with demand from consumers.

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Honda saw a boost in sales from its Odyssey and Pilot models, which saw gains of 28 and 42 percent, respectively.

In response to slow Accord sales, company leaders said last month the Marysville plant will have two non-production days each month between April and the end of June, and will extend an annual shutdown in July. The plant won’t have layoffs as part of the slowdown in production, they said, and some of the non-production days will be used to prepare for production of the CR-V.

Workers at the Marysville plant produce both the Acura ILX and TLX models along with the Accord and the upcoming addition of the CR-V. The plant can produce about 440,000 total vehicles a year

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