The new Honda Coupe sells out in Japan
If you were hoping to get a look at the all-new Honda S660 Coupe, you will have to wait a little longer as all of the 8600 cars scheduled for production this year are fully booked. The S660 seems to be a risk that is paying off for Honda, as its tries to revive its reputation of being a maverick amongst Japanese car manufacturers. It is intended to make Honda the home of some interesting offerings, rather than the maker of run-of-the-mill, “boxy-but-good” mass market compact offerings.
The car was designed by a so-called prodigy in his twenties who has no engineering experience. It was specifically designed with the younger demographic in mind; the only trouble is that 75% of the proud new owners are over 40 years old, which is a much older demographic than the other models in the Honda stable. According to Misato Fukushima, a Honda spokesperson, it would seem that many of the purchasers are buying the coupe as a second car, which contrasts with the last sports car built by Honda, the S2000, which when launched back in 1999 had just 25% of new owners above 40 years old.
Car buyers in Japan tend to have strong brand loyalty but all the automakers are in fact struggling with the failure to attract younger customers. Stagnating annual incomes and an efficient public transportation system, and the problem of finding a parking space in ever more congested cities, means many younger people in Japan don’t see a need to own a car and the ‘car-light’ phenomenon is spreading from the US and Europe (see Is Uber the end of personal car ownership and Hamburg to become car-free zone). Recent government figures show that the number of driver license holders under the age of 40 has fallen 46% over the last 13 years.
“It will be a big challenge for Honda to lure younger buyers,” said Yoshiaki Kawano, an analyst at IHS Automotive. “If you compare the demographic feature and average income with 20 years ago, I would say the motivation for young people to buy such a car could be quite limited.”
Honda expected the S660 to be popular among older customers but believes the proportion of young buyers will rise gradually, said Fukushima.