Honda sees 68% drop in annual profit as coronavirus slams car sales

Honda's annual operating profit has been slashed by 68% thanks to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Honda's annual operating profit has been slashed by 68% thanks to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: GETTY IMAGES/ GADO/ SMITH COLLECTION

Japan's Honda Motor Co on Wednesday forecast a 68% decrease in annual operating profit to a 10-year low with global demand for cars expected to slide because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The country's No 3 car maker expects profit to sink to 200-billion yen (roughly R32,633,779,500) in the year to end-March 2021, its weakest since the 2010/11 year and undershooting analyst estimates.

Honda is bracing for a 6% decrease in annual vehicle sales after a 40% plunge in the June quarter, which resulted in a 113.7 billion-yen operating loss (roughly R18,573,296,406).

Global car makers are taking a big hit from the coronavirus pandemic which has shut  vehicle factories this year and kept customers out of car dealerships.

The maker of the CR-V SUV crossover and the Fit compact hatchback expects to sell 4.5-million vehicles this year, versus 4.79-million last year. It predicts a 16% sales slide in North America, a key market where the US is struggling to control a surge in Covid-19 infections.

If the current situation continues as is, we think the situation will not get worse (than we saw earlier this year), but it will take time for demand to recover to pre-pandemic levels

“If the current situation continues as is, we think the situation will not get worse (than we saw earlier this year), but it will take time for demand to recover to pre-pandemic levels,” executive vice president Seiji Kuraishi told a livestreamed briefing.

Despite weaker sales in North America, Honda expects annual sales in Asia to increase 8%.

China, one of Honda's biggest markets, has become a rare bright spot for many global car makers as demand in the world's biggest car market has been recovering faster than in other countries.

Honda sank into the red for the second straight quarter and posted its worst operating loss since the March 2009 quarter.

Despite its dire outlook, Honda is weathering the pandemic better than rivals Nissan Motor Co , Mitsubishi Motor Corp and Mazda Motor Corp , which last week forecast record operating losses for the year. 


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