Economy, Auto

Honda Affordable Sports Car a Sellout

Honda Affordable Sports Car a Sellout
Honda Affordable Sports Car a Sellout

Honda has sold out all 8,600 of its new roadsters slated for production this year and is fully booked through June.

The only problem: Four in five buyers of the $16,000 sports car are over 40, Bloomberg News reports.

That is a much older demographic than other models in the lineup and many of these older customers are repeat customers buying the coupe as a second car, according to Misato Fukushima, a company spokeswoman.

It’s also a contrast to the last sports car Honda introduced in 1999, the S2000. Back then, only one in five buyers were over 40 years of age.

While the older repeat buyers show Honda has a strong following of longtime fans, a failure to attract younger customers will hurt the prospects for the carmaker in its home market. The problem is not confined to Honda.

Stagnating annual incomes and an efficient public transportation system means many younger people in Japan do not see a need to own a car. 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.

  Maverick image

With the S660, Honda is betting that its risk-taking--the car is designed by a prodigy in his 20s with no engineering experience--will revive its image as a maverick among the major carmakers, a producer of interesting cars rather than just nondescript mass-market compact models.