The American Honda Motor Company announced Friday that its May automobile sales increased 47.6 percent compared to the same month last year. And though the Japanese-based automaker’s sales were down this time last year due to supply chain delays from a tsunami, the latest figures are still impressive, some experts say.
American Honda reported increased sales for most of its vehicles, including the Pilot SUV, Ridgeline pickup and Odyssey minivan, which are solely produced at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln. Odyssey sales increased by more than 10 percent in May compared to last year. The Pilot’s sales increased by more than 5 percent and the Ridgeline’s increased by 32 percent.
“Just about every auto manufacturer in May, trucks were a big month,” said Bill Visnic, auto analyst and senior editor for Edmonds.com. “We suspect it’s because gas prices have sort of mellowed … and there may just be some pent-up demand for truck-type vehicles.”
Sales of the Civic did particularly well, increasing more than 80 percent in May, which represents 33,450 vehicles.
“With our best May sales performance since before the financial crisis it’s obvious Honda’s return to strength is in full swing and our May sales are impressive irrespective of last year’s production supply problems,” John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of sales said in a Friday press release. “Any time Honda Civic sales surpass 33,000 units in a month, it shows real demand in the marketplace.”
Visnic agreed with Mendel’s assessment of Honda’s May sales.
“It kind of demonstrates that Honda is back with a vengeance at the moment,” Visnic said. “They sold 33,000 Civics — that’s a big month no matter how you look at it.”
Ted Pratt, spokesman for the Lincoln plant, said employees there worked many hours to keep up with demand in May.
“We are working some overtime,” Pratt said. “Right now demand and supply is really good.”
The heavy work output in May is in stark contrast from the same month last year. Sales dipped across the board for the auto manufacturer due to an interruption in supply lines from a tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan in April 2011. While there were no layoffs, Honda decreased workloads for several months last year at its North American plants, including the Lincoln facility.
Visnic added that current sales have deflated some analysts’ fears that last year’s vehicle supply delays would force Honda customers to shop elsewhere.
“It sure would appear to be that way,” he said. “I think what may be benefiting Honda and other manufacturers is there is a brighter outlook to the economy than there was this time last year.”
Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star