Honda debuts baby CR-V
NEXT HONDA SUV: Honda's new Urban concept SUV certainly is stunning but will the final product be as popular as the automaker's CR-V?
DETROIT, Michigan - Honda has offered a glimpse of what the automaker's new compact SUV might look like when it hits the streets.
The Japanese automaker debuted its Urban SUV Concept at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2013. The new model is set to be launched in Japan by the end of 2013 and globally by 2014.
The concept SUV is 23cm shorter than the CR-V and hidden rear door releases give it a smooth, coupe-like design.
When it goes on sale in the US it's expected to be priced below the existing CR-V, which starts around $22 700 for a 2013 model (SA prices start from R299 900).
Honda confirmed that its new crossover will use one of its new Earth Dreams engines - a 1.5 I4 paired with a continuously variable transmission.
Tetsuo Iwamura, president and chief operating officer of Honda's North American regional operations, said: "We believe there is a good market potential for this vehicle."
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The model is expected to fill the gap between the Fit (Jazz in SA) and the CR-V. Iwamura anticipated it would draw new buyers and not poach sales from existing vehicles.
In 2012 Honda's US vehicle sales rose 24%, led by strong sales of its Civic, Accord and Odyssey, but the automaker sees an opportunity to increase sales of its smaller vehicles as well. During 2012 CR-V sales rose 29% to more than 281 000.
Honda hasn't released a forecast for its 2013 global sales. The company sold 1.55-million models in the US in 2007 and Iwamura said: "Our challenge for 2013 is to top that."
Honda is opening a plant north of Mexico City where it plans to build the new SUV and the Jazz. With the addition of the plant, Honda said, about 95% of its production for North America will be in North America, up from about 90%.
Honda resident and CEO Takanobu Ito said: "That's a symbol of the kind of localisation that we've done in North America."
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