Honda Atlas introduced the new 3rd-gen HR-V in Pakistan back in October 2022, and the crossover is now officially more than a year old in our market. Whether it has been able to captivate the market is still up for debate, even though the company labeled it as one of the “most anticipated cars” in its launch campaigns.
It’s not possible to analyze individual sales of Honda models anymore since the company has been presenting a combined number of City and Civic since 2014 and has started doing the same for BR-V and HR-V ever since the launch of the latter. Still, the sales numbers show a very dismal picture for Honda cars in Pakistan, including the new HR-V.
Declining HR-V Sales in Pakistan
According to the data released by the Pakistan Automobile Manufacturers Association (PAMA), only 1,860 units of City & Civic were sold during the first quarter of this fiscal year compared to 5,045 units from the same period a year ago, representing a 63% decline in sales. On the other hand, as presented in PAMA data, BR-V and HR-V combined saw 650 sold during Q1, FY23-24 versus 581 units a year ago. The higher numbers in this quarter are because the HR-V was launched in October 2022 and the numbers from Q1, FY22-23 only represent that of BR-V.
But hypothetically speaking, even if we divide this number equally between BR-V and HR-V, it means sales of both stood at just 350 units in the first quarter, rendering a dismal monthly sales average of 108 units. This monthly average is even lower than that of newcomers such as Haval which boasts sales of 712 units during the quarter. Not to mention, Sazgar’s move with Haval is returning unstoppable profits to the company.
Honda is currently running various offers including free registration, a free 4th-year warranty as well as quick deliveries in 30 days for City, 15 days for HR-V, and immediate delivery for BR-V to lure buyers but is not getting the sort of response it was anticipating. So what is the reason behind the lackluster performance of HR-V in Pakistan, which remains the newest vehicle in Honda’s lineup?
Not only the Honda HR-V is way under-equipped compared to the one sold in international markets, but it also lacks an array of features that are present in rival products sold in Pakistan. It misses out on cruise control, 360-surround camera, climate control, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto Connectivity, a lesser number of airbags, and the Honda Sensing safety suite to name a few.
Plus the local Honda HR-V also fails to offer goodies such as rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, an automatic tailgate, dual-zone airconditioning, a panoramic roof, a navigation system, trunk lid lining, adjustable/ auto-leveling headlamps, heated side mirrors, heater & vented seats, voice commands, paddle-shifters, etc, as these are on menu of other locally available crossovers of Chinese origin.
Although the HR-V comes with a 1.5L engine, it comes in a naturally aspirated guise which is good for 119hp and 145Nm, hence lacks the oomph factor. In comparison, rivals such as Haval Jolion come with a 1.5L turbocharged engine that delivers 145hp of power and a staggering 220Nm of torque ensuring a much enjoyable & thrilling driving experience.
While this can be a subjective debate, the HR-V lacks a charismatic appeal. It’s not that it is a bad-looking car, but there is no wow factor as far as the road presence is concerned. Something that the 10th-generation Honda Civic enjoyed, which was a true head-turner. In comparison, other rival crossovers boast a very dashing appearance and a much more impactful road presence.
The Competition & Price Factor
The HR-V, which is priced at PKR 76.49 lac for VTi and PKR 78.99 lac for VTi-S variant, faces stiff competition from a number of Chinese crossover SUVs including the likes of Haval Jolion, Proton X70, DFSK Glory 580 Pro, Chery Tiggo 4 Pro, Peugeot 2008, MG HS as well as the base variants of Kia Sportage & Hyundai Tucson. So the customer having this much money to spend has plenty of options to choose from. Plus the HR-V lacks a decent boot space, which is quite generous in comparable options.
Furthermore, at a price close to Rs 8.0 million, the long list of missing features makes the HR-V rather unattractive for buyers. Honda is making the same mistake it did when it introduced the previous generation HR-V in Pakistan back in January 2016. Due to the fact that the vehicle was under-equipped, and priced higher, it saw a hard time competing with the JDM Honda Vezel which was available in our market courtesy of used imports. The JDM Vezel not only was better built, it was also hybrid which means better fuel efficiency, was rich in features & equipment, had better quality, and was available cheaper than the brand new HR-V sold by Honda Atlas.
The Investor Factor
Another factor for declining sales is the investor (hoarder) factor, which has been eliminated from the equation. Not so long ago, these hoarders were the ones to book the majority of new vehicles, which they could later sell against premium/ on-money. Now due to crunching economic conditions and the reduced buying power of the masses, there is literally no real buyer around, hence the hoarders are not investing money in booking new automobiles. Not surprisingly, local assemblers are bearing the brunt of this.
Non-Production Days Dilemma
Citing a lack of inventory in hand, Honda Atlas along with other legacy Japanese automakers in Pakistan is constantly observing plant shutdowns & non-production days (NPDs). While this appears to be a serious issue, there is a school of thought that believes these companies have enough of unsold stocks on hand and that the NPDs are simply a way to dampen the situation because there are virtually no new orders around.
The Way Forward
The only way forward for Honda is to make HR-V more appealing to the masses. This can be done by either lowering its price or improving the HR-V in terms of features & equipment. If that’s not done, due to dwindling sales, the third-generation HR-V may suffer the same fate as its predecessor.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com