Accord, Pilot drag down Honda

LOS ANGELES -- American Honda was one of the few volume losers in March, as its sales slid 2 percent from a year earlier to 133,318 units.

Honda brand sales fell 3 percent to 117,738, while the Acura brand increased 11 percent to 15,580.

At the Honda brand, sales of the CR-V rose 7 percent, those of the Odyssey rose 1 percent and those of the Civic were flat. But sales of the Accord fell 7 percent while Pilot sales dropped 21 percent.

In a press release, Honda made passing reference to other automakers’ stepped-up incentive spending as a reason why Honda sales didn’t match the industry’s overall pace.

“With all of the independent data showing the competition getting back on the juice of heavy incentives and fleet sales, we couldn’t be more pleased to see our core models -- Accord, Civic and CR-V -- attract such significant interest from retail buyers,” Jeff Conrad, Honda division general manager, said in a statement.

But Honda had its own incentive-laden sales event in March, with lease and APR deals on its volume lines. And rival Ford Motor Co. was surprisingly light on fleet sales, just 13 percent, and showed its strongest retail sales in eight years.

The Acura brand continues to be a tale of two cities. While crossover sales were rollicking, with MDX up 81 percent and RDX up 18 percent, Acura’s passenger cars are in the doldrums. The TL and TSX sedans -- which will be replaced by the TLX this summer -- suffered sales declines. TL sales fell 35 percent and TSX sales dropped 25 percent. The ILX entry-luxury sedan continues to falter, off 18 percent. Although the RLX is up 13 percent, it only sold 387 units, far below its target.

You can reach Mark Rechtin at mrechtin@crain.com -- Follow Mark on Twitter: @markrechtin

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