American Honda Motor Co. Inc. and its dealers hold a typically upbeat franchise meeting at the 2009 National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention here, despite the downturn in the economy and Honda's 6.4% sales decline in 2008.
“It's usually a very, very positive meeting,” says Carter Myers of Carter Myers Automotive, which counts Colonial Honda of Richmond, VA, among its stores. “To give you a measure of the satisfaction, there was not one question asked of the Honda executives,” he says of the hour-plus meeting Sunday.
On the topic of marketing funding, Honda tells dealers it will continue to be supportive. “I don't think anybody believes they can buy the market,” says Myers, “but (the auto maker wants dealers to) make sure (they've) got market there when the opportunity arrives.”
Myers, a former NADA chairman, says Honda executives continue to show concern for their dealers in the current challenging U.S. economy.
“I think Dick Colliver (executive vice president) was candid in his discussions about the industry and what we're all facing,” he says. “I think (Honda is) appreciative of the situation dealers are in (and) concerned with (dealers') profitability (and) inventory status. There's a real partnership that you don't always find in a franchise-dealer relationship.”
Asked if credit-arm American Honda Finance Corp. is writing enough car loans, Myers says the unit has “always been more conservative than we'd probably like, but I don't think we've seen any major changes in Honda Finance.
“They'll buy people that deserve to be bought, and they don't buy people that we wish were bought but probably don't deserve (to be),” he adds, calling Honda Finance “consistent” in that respect.
True to form, Honda remains closed-mouthed about future product with its dealers. However, one topic of discussion at the franchise meeting was the already-announced Honda Insight hybrid-electric vehicle, which Myers says is less about sales and more about image.