Honda unveiled on Monday the concept for a new small crossover that will go on sale in the U.S. in late 2014, said John Mendel, executive vice president at American Honda.
A new Honda Fit, also based on the concept and sharing the subcompact platform, will go on sale a few months before.
Both will be built at Honda’s new $800-million plant, which is under construction in Celaya, Mexico. Mendel would not say if the electric Fit will also be made at the new plant, which will have the capacity to make 200,000 vehicles a year for export around the world.
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The Urban SUV Concept made its world debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
“We think this vehicle is right on the money,” Mendel said of the crossover, which is not meant to be an off-road vehicle, but “speaks to its nimble nature.” He would not provide sales forecasts or powertrain details.
The new crossover would slot in below the CR-V in the automaker’s lineup.
The global family of small cars will account for much of Honda’s volume and growth.
The first small SUVs will go on sale in Japan by the end of the year.
Honda’s global sales are now about 4 million and will grow to 6 million by March 2017, said Honda CEO Takanobu Ito. He expects the subcompact family to account for 1.5 million of those sales in four years.
A hallmark of Honda is the ability to innovate when it comes to packaging, especially small vehicles where it is crucial to make the most of the limited space, said Mike Accavitti, vice president of national marketing operations for American Honda, in an interview.
Honda sold fewer than 50,000 Fits in the U.S. last year, down 17%, according to Autodata. “We could have sold more Fits if we could get them,” Accavitti said.