Why do left-hand drive markets get all the good models? That must be what Honda Australia’s senior management is thinking, because it’s missing out on two models that could be vital to it growing its sales Down Under.
The two models we’re talking about are the Pilot large SUV and the Ridgeline pick-up/ute, both of which aren’t built in right-hand drive. The market in North America is big enough to sustain both of them, just in left-hand drive.
That doesn’t mean Honda Australia has given up on getting a larger SUV to sit above the CR-V, and a dual-cab ute to take on the commercial vehicle segment.
Stephen Collins, Honda Australia director, told CarAdvice at the launch of the new Civic hatch this week that the brand would love to be able to fill the gaps in its model range, but the fact is that the chances are slim.
“It’s no secret that large SUVs and pick-ups are big opportunities. At this point in time, and for the foreseeable future there is no right-hand drive option for us to fill those gaps.
“Pick-ups and large SUVs – as much as they might be on our shopping lists – there’s nothing available to us. It doesn’t mean we don’t continue to chase that opportunity,” he said.
“We’re constantly in talks with our parent company on what the opportunities are, and clearly there are opportunities.
“Whether we can fill them in the future, and whether right-hand drive will be viable, I don’t know. But we’ll continue to push,” Collins said.
A large SUV could see Honda take on the likes of the Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Kluger, while a ute model would more likely be aimed at, say, a Volkswagen Amarok buyer.
And seeing that the Ridgeline was only revamped with a new model in 2016, and the Pilot SUV in 2015, there’s a chance it’ll be well into the 2020s before there’s an answer for the question Honda Australia keeps asking of its Japanese headquarters.