LOS ANGELES -- Despite looming vehicle shortages, Honda Division is telling its U.S. dealers to aim for a 12 percent year-over-year sales gain in April, or a total of 115,000 units.
In a memo sent to dealers on Monday, Honda said it is aware that delays in Japanese and North American production could affect the vehicle pipeline.
Honda recently went on half-time production schedules at most of its North American plants. Its Japanese plants have been off-line since the March 11 earthquake; they are slated to restart partial production April 11.
As of March 1, Honda Division had 233,000 cars in its U.S. inventory, about a 64-day supply. Its Odyssey minivans had a 36-day supply, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
"We cannot lose focus on reaching our April sales objective," the memo said. Noting that the launch of the redesigned 2012 Civic commences April 20, Honda told dealers that there will be "media power" behind the event.
The 115,000-unit goal would actually be a slight decline over March's results. Honda Division sold 121,039 vehicles in March, a 25 percent gain over the same month a year ago. Sales rose 21 percent for the first quarter compared to the same three months of 2010.
Honda's memo hinted, however, that shortages of vehicles could trigger predatory pricing practices. It cautioned against the practice by telling dealers to "do what is right" and not "diminish the public trust."
Without confirming the sales target, American Honda spokesman Gary Robinson said, "We still have a good inventory of cars. You shouldn't tell people to sell a certain number of cars unless you have that number of cars to sell."
Staff reporter Ryan Beene contributed to this report.