Honda Thailand problems affecting Australian sales
Honda sales have been crimped by stock imbalance
in Australia, with base models in short supply.
A run on the popular base versions of the Jazz, Civic, four-cylinder
Accord VTi and CR-V compact SUV means that stocks have been depleted
for much of this year.
Honda’s decision to slash production at its Thailand plant in the
wake of the global economic crisis has been at the centre of the
stock shortages for Honda Australia.
Honda Australia senior director Lindsay Smalley said the model mix
coming from Thailand had to be changed. “Now that we have seen the
initial customer response to the financial crisis, our next
challenge is to have the right model mix,” he said at last week’s
launch of the new-generation Odyssey people-mover (which comes out
of Japan, not Thailand).
“We have two issues with stock. The first one is, particularly at
the lower grades, we are almost out of stock of Jazz GLi, Civic VTi,
base-model CR-V, Accord VTi. As certain areas of the market drop,
sales of those types of cars have grown. So we have a model mix
issue - healthy stock for the most expensive cars. Production
constraints in Thailand (means) that we physically can’t get cars at
the moment. In Thailand, they have built a new plant for the
Australian market essentially, but that has been mothballed, and the
other plant has gone from three shifts down to one shift with no
overtime. And that’s most of the production for the Asian region -
Jazz, Civic, Accord and CR-V.”
Honda Australia put a positive spin on Honda’s stock crisis, saying
that it had managed to move quite a few high-line models during the
last month or so, and that the company was now on more secure
footing, considering the current economic situation.
“We would like more stock. But when there is less stock in these
market conditions, we are in a much better position than if we were
There is no doubt about the fact that this is a global recession,
and with Thailand being a manufacturing base for Asia and
Australasia, it will be necessary for all parties to work together.
The sales figures for March in Thailand, both domestic consumption
and export were quite promising, so hopefully this trend will
continue. In the meantime, China is going full steam ahead in the
auto business, with the sales figures surpassing those of America.
Last week I mentioned that in the early days, the spare wheel was usually tacked
on to the rear of the car. I asked which car, and when, did the spare wheel
become enclosed in the tail? The correct answer was the Austin 20 tourer of
So to this week. Which three top level motorcycle racers also raced in F1?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Less is more
The financial problems facing the world has also made a difference to
the residual values in the secondhand market. With finance for new cars being
difficult, people are looking at buying a secondhand model of the car they
originally might have bought on finance.
Generally, the small cars are less expensive than full-size vehicles in the new
car showrooms, but the savings are not quite as clear cut in the secondhand car
The recession is continuing to have a profound impact on rates of used car
depreciation, with the values of small, fuel-efficient city cars now
outperforming those of prestige-brand saloons and 4x4s for the first time ever.
Vehicles in the city car segment are now the slowest depreciating in the UK,
retaining an average 49.5 percent of their purchase price after three years and
“The improvement in values of city cars is all the more remarkable when you take
into account the massive growth in the supply of three-year-old examples -
annual sales in 2003 were 95,000, and by 2006 they had grown to 162,000,”
explained Adrian Rushmore, managing editor at Glass’s Vehicle Guide.
Luxury saloon cars have been the biggest casualty in the Glass’s Top 10, falling
four places to number nine since 2006. “These models now represent less than one
percent of the total market, and it is difficult to see how they will gain much
favor during an economic downturn,” commented Rushmore.
While these comments are on the UK secondhand scene, the same market forces
exist in Thailand. Have you noticed just how many used car showrooms have popped
up recently? Small cars such as the Toyota Vios will hold their head up
pricewise better than the larger vehicles in the long run.
Rotating wheels after balancing
Had the wheels balanced on the ‘new’ Mira the other day. The
technician (dare I elevate him that high?) also, without my knowledge,
rotated the wheels. Now this is something I never do, the tyres get ‘used’
to one particular corner of the car, front tyres in particular. The concept
of getting all four tyres to wear out at the same time also means a larger
hit replacing all four at once. However, when I read the bill later, I found
I had been charged 15 baht per wheel for putting the wheel in a different
spot on the car. I consider this as padding the bill. However, I wonder if I
had said put them back in the same spot they would then have charged me 15
baht each wheel for remembering which wheel went where?
Borneo Safari for the Off-Roaders
Whilst for me “off-road” means I got the corner all wrong, there
is a strong following of off-road 4WD enthusiasts. Later this year there
will be an interesting event for this group. Little known on the
international 4x4 calendar, it is the Borneo Safari held every year in the
Malaysian State of Sabah.
event now entering its nineteenth year is organized by the very capable Kota
Kinabalu Four Wheel Drive Club, more familiarly known as KFWDC.
I am told that the Borneo Safari is an eight day extreme off road challenge. A
combination of pristine jungle and crystal clear rivers makes Sabah the ideal
playground for off-road enthusiasts. This year, 2009, the event will be held
from 25th October until the 1st November.
The event itself can be likened to the Rainforest Challenge of Peninsular
Malaysia with a similar track environment and the opportunity to introduce
technical Special Stages along the route.
The Borneo Safari is a competitive expedition with Special Stages, around twenty
in number, fought out as the convoy moves along a difficult transportation
route. As with any event, the degree of difficulty is governed by the prevailing
weather conditions. However, it is not uncommon to encounter landslides, the
need to repair or build bridges and cross fast flowing deep rivers. (And that’s
why I like to stay on the bitumen!)
Teams from overseas have competed in the past with regular entrants from
Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and Japan.
It is claimed by the organizers that the Borneo Safari stands alongside the more
well known events such as the Rainforest Challenge, the Magam Trophy and the
Croatia to name but a few.
For those that consider it is a long distance to bring their own vehicle then do
not let that become an obstacle. There are local competition vehicles for rental
that are fully prepared to cope with the conditions to be expected on the event.
These vehicles are offered at a reasonable rate.
More information about KFWDC and the Borneo Safari can be found at www.
What did we learn from the Bahrain GP?
Well we learned that Toyota does not know winning strategies, but
Ross Brawn does. In fact, Ross Brawn has been a winning strategist for many
seasons and past world champion Michael Schumacher owes his trophy cabinet
to Ross Brawn from his days at Ferrari. A good win for Jenson Button, and
can somebody now show him how to shave.
Toyota were 1st and 2nd on the grid and stormed away at the start. Where did
it go wrong? The wrong tyre choices at the wrong time. It was known that the
softer of the two tyre choices was the quicker, but Toyota chose to put both
drivers on the slower tyre for long second stints. However, their day will
come and Trulli drove well to bag the third step on the podium.
Vettel in the Red Bull continues as flavor of the month, and with
justification with a well driven 2nd place, though he was getting on the
ragged edge many times. Webber screwed up qualifying so started around last
place, and 11th at the flag was not a bad effort, but well below both his
(and the car’s) potential.
Qualifying for Dummies - leaving your ‘ultimate’ lap till right at the end
of the time allotted does not make much sense, when one hold-up for any
reason ruins your starting position. The reason the quickest times come at
the end is not that the track magically gets faster, but that the drivers
tune themselves up mentally for that final push. They can do that with five
minutes left in the session, and then again at the end. Called a ‘banker’
lap, it would have had Webber starting in a much more favorable position.
There are several drivers who should not be filling a seat in the world’s
premier motor racing class. Nakajima in the Williams is one of these. He is
fast, but can be reliably expected to spin and hit things. He did not
disappoint in both these regards.
BMW are in big trouble. There will be bloodshed in the boardroom over the
team’s abysmal performances, especially with German rival Mercedes-Benz
currently blitzing the field in the Brawn GP chassis. Team boss Mario
Thyssen is promising aerodynamic upgrades for the next GP in Spain. If there
is no improvement you can expect withdrawal of funds by the factory. You
read it here first!
Ferrari broke their duck with Raikkonen’s 6th placing, but Massa broke his
nose and finished out of the points. Massa is reverting to his old erratic
self with lots of excuses, and will be replaced at the end of the year. You
read it here first.
Force India was shaking hands with themselves after both cars finished. Dear
Oh Dear, I’m sorry, Team Vindaloo is still an also-ran. Perhaps owner VJ
Mallya might like to try a couple of his IPL cricketers in the seats next
time, so that they can hold up even more drivers in Qualifying.
The Sulky Spaniard and the ‘powered by Dad’s money’ Brazilian in the
Renaults were nowhere, as were the Williams and the Roaring Tossers.
Improvement urgently needed.
Is McLaren on the comeback trail? Hamilton showed a little of the form of
last year, but Kovalainen just gets slower and slower. He will be replaced
at the end of 2009. You read it here first.
The BBC telecast was very patchy. The director seemingly unable to keep the
sequence of the racing, and I don’t need the anchorman to read me the table
of runners as it appears on the screen. I can do that myself without
difficulty. What we do need is more informed comment from the pits instead
of Leggard’s prattle from the press box.