The SUV zeitgeist is not just an American thing. But Japan covets small cars, not SUVs. So you might be surprised to know that sedans are so dead in Japan that Honda is dropping the Civic for the second time. Is the US next? We would say no based on sales over the last several years. So, while sedans are going bust in Japan and the US, the Civic sedan is a solid sales winner here.
Interestingly, this is not the first time Honda has dropped the Civic sedan in its home market. In 2010 it discontinued the sedan only to bring it back in 2017. In the US sales of the Civic sedan in 2010 were 260,000. By 2017 they had climbed by more than 120,000. No wonder Honda though it was missing something in Japan and opted to reintroduce it there. The other reason was that the sedan was all-new and featured a more aggressive appearance. It seemed like a good time to give it another chance in the home market.
Sales were never good and in 2019 Honda sold just 1,619 Civic sedans in Japan
But sales were never good and in 2019 the Civic sedan sold just 1,619 units in Japan. Conversely, it sold 250,000 N-Box mini compacts. The small Honda Fit is also a big seller there according to Automotive News. That highlights another distinction between the Japanese market and here.
Smaller cars sell better in Japan. In the US bigger is better; just look at how many full-size SUVs there are. A smaller car like the tiny Honda N-Box is considered a better car in Japan. “Small is better” is a common mantra in Japan. And the government awards the smaller car purchase with tax breaks for certain sizes and engine displacements.
The Civic sedan continued to lose favor in Japan. Over the years it got larger to appeal to China and the US. Even in Canada, the Civic sedan is a steady-seller at over 60,000 sold yearly for many years in a row. But not all markets are the same and this highlights how difficult it can be to try to appeal to different cultures and tastes.
Another reason The Honda Civic sedan sells well here is cost
Another reason it sells well here is cost. A base Civic sedan starts at $20,000. The Civic Si sedan will cost about $5,000 more. A Civic coupe starts at $21,000 with the Si coupe version under $26,000. The hot Type R takes a big jump to $37,000. But you also get over 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque hooked to a six-speed manual transmission.
Honda will continue to sell the Civic hatchback and Type R hot hatch. Both are manufactured in Great Britain and imported into Japan. But the car that made the name Honda a household word in the US will not be sold in Japan.