DETROIT -- Honda Motor Co. is modifying its Civic sedan, which received poor reviews, as part of a plan to boost U.S. sales by 24 percent in 2012 for its namesake brand.
Honda will unveil "upgrades" on its 2013-model Civic, going on sale late next year, Tetsuo Iwamura, the automaker's top North American executive, said in an interview today in Romulus, Mich.
The current Civic failed to receive the "recommended" status its predecessors had in the past from Consumer Reports magazine, which criticized it for a decline in interior quality, choppier ride, and more road noise than previous Civics.
"Building a good car isn't enough for us, we have to build a great car," John Mendel, Honda's executive vice president of sales in the United States, said in the same interview. "We think we can do better and the customer expects that and we will."
U.S. sales of the Civic have fallen 13 percent this year to 200,690, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
Honda's U.S. market share has fallen to 9 percent from 10.5 percent so far in 2011, suffering inventory shortages caused by floods in Thailand in October and a March earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The company has a 41-day supply of vehicles, less than half the inventory it should have, Iwamura said.
"Hopefully, by the end of March next year" Honda will have full inventory, Iwamura said. "If John could sell more, then it will be the end of April or May."
Japan's third-largest automaker counts on the U.S. market for the largest portion of its global sales.
Tight inventory and competition from rivals including Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. cut Honda's U.S. sales 5.3 percent through November.
Combined share for South Korean affiliates Hyundai and Kia rose to 9 percent from 7.8 percent a year ago.
Honda has set a target to increase U.S. sales of its namesake brand to 1.25 million models next year, from about 1 million this year, Iwamura said.
It plans to boost sales of its Acura luxury line by 43 percent to 180,000 from about 126,000 this year, he said.
"It looks like quite a high jump, but because of the availability problem we had a really low year this year," Iwamura said. "That is the reason why growth looks huge, but for us, it's a natural growth."
Honda brand's U.S. sales totaled 931,885 through November while the Acura brand sold 110,170 vehicles, according to Autodata.