Honda pre-sold all 100 limited editions of the 2021 Civic Type R in Canada in only four minutes – a result achieved, in part, by the automaker’s decision to use an online portal for the first time to market a vehicle, a company executive says.
“We expected demand for the vehicle to be high as the Civic Type R is a popular car with a strong and loyal fan base,” said Steve Hui, assistant vice-president sales and marketing Honda Canada. “The fact that it is a Limited Edition with only a certain amount available added to this, but even we were pleasantly surprised at how quickly they pre-sold.”
The cars went online on May 21, and their quick uptake comes at a time when vehicle sales across the globe are being crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic. No pricing has been announced. Purchasers were required to make a $1,000 deposit.
“This was obviously a very successful program for us, and we’ll take that into consideration for future sales campaigns,” said Hui.
Andrew Tai, whose company Motoinsight powered the Honda online portal with its digital retailing solution called MotoCommerce, said Honda’s success is testimony to the industry’s accelerated shift toward e-commerce.
“It continues to impress me that customers under the right circumstances are willing to commit sight unseen to vehicles and do so online,” Tai said. “The consumer trends are always moving in this direction. We saw it all around us even pre-COVID. I think COVID accelerated the adoption of online purchasing experiences across demographics and automotive is not immune from that.”
Honda’s approach will become more common among manufacturers, but will not replace buying cars at dealerships, said Tai.
“I want to be very clear that we are not predicting [the end of dealerships] and everything goes online,” Tai said. “This is just a trend where customers are doing more online. I think consumers ultimately want an in-store experience and there is an important role for the dealer to play.
“This is just one illustration, though, of how the car-buying behaviour is changing and consumers have evolved and dealers and automakers need to be willing to experiment and do things differently.”