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Honda's modest plans for Europe

Offenbach. Honda hopes to further increase its unit sales in 2004. "We want to sell 3.2 million cars worldwide and therewith reach a sales increase of 10 percent in 2004," Minoru Harada, president of Honda Motor Europe, told Automobilwoche. Last year the world's seventh largest automobile manufacturer sold around 2.91 million passenger cars.

Honda expects that most of the growth will take place in China. Unit sales in 2004 are expected to rise by 87.7 percent to 220,000. Harada expects a sales increase of 8.1 percent to 800,000 units in the home market, and a 3.7 percent in U.S. sales to 1.4 million autos.

Unit sales in Europe, however. will only grow by a modest 1.2 percent to 220,000 cars. "In 2003 we did better in Europe than we planned in 2002. It may seem as if we only had little growth but on the whole we are very content," Harada said. Last year, Honda's European unit sales increased by 11 percent to 217,500 vehicles.

In Germany, where in 1961 Honda opened its first European location, the company sold 34,300 automobiles in 2003, a 5.2 percent increase from 2002. "I expect that the number of new registrations will increase to 37,000 in 2004," Hideo Tanaka, president of Honda Motor Europe (North), said.

His target: "By 2008 we hope to be selling approximately 60,000 cars per annum."

Honda is close to finishing a restructuring of the German dealer network it started in 1999: "We are only looking for sales partners in 30 areas of responsibility. Our aim is to have a network of between 280 and 300 partners and a total of 450 outlets by the end of 2004," Tanaka explained. The network now has 256 authorized dealers at 328 locations.

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