Vezel drives Honda to top spot on parallel import chart
THE fact that the Honda Vezel would be the standout parallel import (PI) model in 2015 was not going to be a surprise - but the magnitude of its success is.
With 3,980 units of the Vezel sold by Singapore's parallel importers, the compact SUV (sport utility vehicle) accounts for 46.6 per cent of the total 8,534 PI cars registered last year - nearly half.
The Vezel has also propelled Honda into top spot as Singapore's most popular PI brand, overtaking the previously dominant Toyota.
Up until the third quarter of 2015, Toyota was leading the PI stakes, as it had done so since 2013.
Another interesting figure is that of the 57,589 new cars registered in Singapore last year, PIs now account for 14.8 per cent of the industry total. The proportion is more than twice that of 2014's 6.7 per cent but still off the peak of 23.8 per cent in 2008, when the total market size was 97,348 registrations.
There was little doubt the climb in PI market share was driven by the Vezel, whose enormous success among replacement buyers is based on product and provenance.
It is a sporty-looking car with a versatile cabin and affordable pricing. But equally attractive is that it is a Japanese domestic model.
Authorised Honda distributor Kah Motor offers the export version called the HR-V.
However, not only can the HR-V cost up to 10 per cent more than the Vezel but it is also assembled in Thailand.
The Vezel's popularity is such that its registration numbers are more than double those of nearest PI rival, the Toyota Harrier, at 1,793 units.
However, the Harrier is a more expensive model.
Cars in a higher price segment than the Vezel were more popular in years when certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums cost more.
In 2014, for example, the top PI model was the Toyota Estima, whose export version is the Previa, sold by authorised Toyota distributor Borneo Motors Singapore.
Mercedes-Benz has two models in the top 10 - the mid-size E-Class and compact C-Class sedans.
With the COE premiums sliding from the highs of a few years ago, the top 10 models will likely continue to be predominantly Japanese and very likely, only Honda or Toyota at that.
THE BUSINESS TIMES