Honda sees near-record year for sales

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Honda sees near-record year for sales

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The Springfield News-Sun provides unmatched coverage of area companies, including Honda and its impact on workers in Clark and Champaign counties. For this story, the paper spoke to local officials and experts about the effect of Honda, which reported the second-best sales result in the automaker’s history.

By the numbers:

1.54 million — Honda North America sales in 2014

1.52 million — Honda sales in 2013

1 percent — Year over year change

137,281 — December 2014 sales

135,244 — December 2013 sales

Honda fell just shy of a company record for annual sales last year as the auto industry has continued to show signs of recovery from the Great Recession.

The company reported Monday total sales of more than 1.5 million vehicles last year, a roughly 1 percent increase compared to 2013. That figure is the second best in its history, barely falling short of the high mark set in 2007, according to information from Kelley Blue Book.

The automaker has a large footprint in the local economy, with more than 1,500 workers from Clark and Champaign counties employed at Honda’s Marysville facility.

“We’re glad to have them,” Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said. “They weathered the last economic downturn in 2008 without any real layoffs and they’re doing well. They’re very important to the area as a major employer.”

Honda’s Acura Division also reported it sold more than 167,800 vehicles in 2014, a roughly 6 percent increase over the previous year and its best year since 2007. The manufacturer’s light truck sales hit an annual record with more than 702,000 sold last year.

“Despite the price of gasoline dropping well below $3 a gallon in many markets, Honda’s strong, balanced lineup of cars helped us achieve record sales in 2014,” Jeff Conrad, Honda division senior vice president and general manager said in a statement.

Honda also affects numerous area firms that provide it with parts. KTH, a St. Paris firm that manufactures auto body frames, is undergoing a $29 million expansion company officials have said is connected to increased production at Honda. In April, Parker Trutec, which provides heat-treating services to Honda, announced it would hire about 15 new workers as part of a $13 million expansion.

Yamada North America Inc., which supplies oil and water pumps and steering components to Honda and other automakers, also announced recently it would add production lines and hire as many as 40 employees.

The auto industry overall has been growing for the past several years as consumers have sought to replace older vehicles after the recession, said Tim Fleming, an analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

“Right now is a time when a lot of auto makers are having a lot of success,” Fleming said. “The close of 2014 is the sixth consecutive year of sales increases dating back to 2009 and the recession. We’re seeing a lot of positive numbers all the way around.”

Even with its near-record sales, Honda’s 1 percent growth last year lags behind some automakers, according to December figures from Autodata.com. General Motors saw a roughly 5 percent increase compared to 2013 while Chrysler has seen an increase of about 16 percent.

Automakers could see another bump in sales in 2015, but could reach a peak before sales slow again, Fleming said. The industry overall sold about 16.5 million vehicles this year, he said, a roughly 5 percent increase over last year.

“Looking forward to next year I think we’re going to continue to see increases,” Fleming said. “It’s going to be dependent on how much manufacturers offer incentives, but we’re thinking right now 16.9 million units although 17 million is definitely a possibility.”

Along with the Accord, Honda’s Marysville plant also produces the Acura TLX. The company also recently announced the completion of a $35 million expansion to create a Honda Heritage Center, that will conduct research and training for technicians across the U.S.

Honda is also expected to unveil its Acura NSX Supercar at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. The NSX will be built in Marysville and is anticipated to go on sale this year.

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