TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. says demand for light trucks will boost its U.S. sales 10 percent in the fiscal year that begins April 1.
North America has been Honda's lone bright spot lately. Sales in North America climbed 6 percent to 364,000 units in the quarter that ended Dec. 31. It was the only region in which Honda sales rose.
Honda's North American business has been buoyed by the market's general recovery and increased demand for light trucks such as the Odyssey minivan and CR-V small SUV, Executive Vice President Koichi Kondo said at the company's Jan. 31 earnings announcement.
New product will help.
"Next fall the CR-V is going to get a full model change, so we have high expectations from that," Kondo said. "Our mix will be even better next year."
Increasing demand for light trucks will help lift Honda's U.S. sales to about 1.28 million vehicles in the fiscal year ending March 31, he predicted. He sees the total U.S. market coming in around 12.6 million units in the fiscal year that starts April 1.
On a global basis, Honda's profits slumped in its fiscal third quarter amid a 7 percent decline in automobile sales. Net income tumbled 40 percent to ¥81.1 billion, or about $994.6 million, in the period, while operating profit fell 29 percent to $1.54 billion.
Net income declined for the first time in five quarters. The yen's appreciation against the dollar and euro undercut earnings, as did the end of government incentives in Japan.
But Honda executives are optimistic about better earnings in light of the U.S. economic recovery. The company lowered its sales forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31. But it raised its profit outlook. Net income is now seen growing 70 percent to $7.6 billion, compared with an earlier goal of $6.13 billion.
For the full fiscal year, Honda left its North American sales target unchanged at 1.475 million units. But it lowered its sales outlooks for both Europe and Japan.