The Honda Ridgeline has a price problem.
The innovative V-6 pickup costs about $10,000 more than other compact trucks in the United States. And that is hurting sales, says Koichi Kondo, president of American Honda Motor Co.
He says Honda could put incentives on it if sales continue to disappoint, but it won't do so immediately. Honda typically uses cut-rate financing, subsidized leases and dealer cash to boost sales.
"We will take measures if needed," Kondo said at a press event in Tokyo two weeks ago.
Honda broke ground with the Ridgeline by creating it from the Odyssey minivan platform. Engineers welded a frame to the Odyssey's unibody.
Honda marketers have said it will appeal to upscale customers who own other Honda vehicles, motorcycles and power equipment.
It's difficult to get an exact read on the Ridgeline's popularity because it only went on sale in March. Honda sold 3,585 Ridgelines in June. Kondo said the goal is to sell 50,000 a year.
According to Power Information Network data, the Ridgeline's average transaction price in July was $31,602, nearly $10,000 more than the average price of other compact trucks. The Power Information Network is an affiliate of J.D. Power and Associates.
Honda executives in America acknowledge the higher price but say the Ridgeline provides more features, such as standard all-wheel drive, a comfortable ride and a lockable trunk built into the cargo bed.
Jim Roland, general sales manager of Heritage Honda in Baltimore, says: "It's a lovely vehicle. I think it's a tad overpriced. It's more or less priced up with the bigger trucks, but it's a small vehicle."
Although incentives could spur sales, Roland doesn't want to see Honda employ the tactic. He favors a more drastic approach: "I feel that they ought to drop the price - period."
Yuzo Yamaguchi contributed to this report