TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. set sales records almost everywhere but in Japan in 2005. And 2006 looks even better.
Honda estimates that its 2005 global automotive sales will rise 5 percent to a record 3.35 million vehicles. It also predicts 2005 will see record sales for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and power products.
Honda predicts sales will continue to rise in the United States in 2006 and will rebound in Japan. It also sees growth in several other markets. But Honda would not predict whether 2006 would be another global record sales year.
Honda CEO Takeo Fukui declined to offer forecasts for the carmaker's global production and sales in 2006. He said the company no longer will make its calendar-year forecasts public. Honda will release forecasts only for its fiscal year, which begins April 1.
However, the company did provide 2006 forecasts for some markets. In the United States, Honda is aiming for 2006 sales of 1.51 million, up 4 percent from 2005, said Koichi Kondo, COO for regional operations in North America. The estimated 1.45 million sales in 2005 also would be a 4 percent gain from the prior year.
He predicted total U.S. industry sales in 2006 will slip to "around 16.5 million," from an estimated 16.8 million this year. He blamed rising gasoline prices and interest rates for the slide.
Kondo also predicted light trucks will make up about 44 percent of Honda's U.S. sales next year, up from 42 percent in 2005 and 40 percent in 2004.
Honda predicted 2006 China sales of 350,000, up 35 percent.
It also predicted strong growth in several other markets. For example, Honda sales in India totaled about 50,000 through November. By 2010, Honda says, those sales will double. In Brazil, Honda predicts sales will almost double from this year's estimated 55,000, to 100,000 by 2010.
Honda expects its 2005 auto sales in Japan to fall 3.1 percent to 720,000. That puts it well short of its goal of regularly selling 800,000 in Japan. Honda predicted a rebound in 2006 Japan sales. It did not say how large the gain would be.
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