Thanks to an anonymous tipster, Autoblog has learned that the so-called "emergency refresh" of the Honda Civic is just around the corner. In fact, the automaker is already urging its dealers to clear out remaining 2012 model year stock because "The changes made to the 2013 model will make the outgoing 2012 Civic a difficult model [to] sell when they are side to side." Those are the words of David Hendley, Assistant Vice President of Honda National Sales excerpted from a recent letter to dealers. The communiqué goes on to note that the refreshed Civic will go on sale on November 29 – a date, we note, that coincides with press days for the Los Angeles Auto Show.
According to Hendley's letter, buyers can look forward to "dramatic improvements to the exterior styling that moves Civic into a more premium sporty direction." The text also promises that the 2013's interior will receive "upgrades and improvements to bring more sophistication and quality to its appearance." For his part, American Honda President Tetsuo Iwamura has previously been quoted as saying that changes will be made to "improve the Civic's drivability," suggesting suspension and powertrain alterations are afoot as well.
The ninth-generation Civic has only been on sale for a year, and such a substantial refresh this early in the generation's lifecycle is unprecedented these days – not just for Honda, but for the industry as well. The Japanese automaker has been stung by widespread criticism for the 2012 Civic range's lackluster dynamics, lessened interior quality, noise levels, low feature count and uninspiring design – perceived shortcomings exacerbated by the industry's hyper-competitive compact car segment. Among the critics, the Civic was given poor marks in a review by this site as well as influential institute Consumer Reports, which went so far as to remove the Civic from its coveted Recommended list. In fact, CR editors labeled the 2012 Civic a "car to avoid" in August.
A lack of critical praise doesn't seem to be harming Civic sales, however. According to the automaker's own sales data, the 2012 model is performing quite handsomely, having sold 234,029 units through September of this year, with 21,546 of those units coming last month alone. That means Honda is shifting almost 40-percent more units this year than the (admittedly aging) eighth-generation model did in 2011. The Civic is now selling near the top of its class, and Hendley notes that the company's Indiana plant will be running at full-tilt to build the updated 2013 model – in fact, he indicates that the US will even draw units from Canadian production.
When contacted for comment about the Hendley dealer letter, Sage Marie, Honda's Senior Manager of Public Relations, confirmed to Autoblog that the automaker will have Civic news to reveal next month, noting that Honda is keen "to ensure Civic remains the benchmark in the segment and remains as competitive as it can be."
Letter to Honda dealers from Honda:
Dear Honda Dealer,
Thank you for your effort of selling down the 2012 Accord. As you remember from the dealer meeting earlier this summer in Philadelphia, our priority at the time was to get the Accord down to a reasonable days supply by our September launch date for the new model. Our sell down of the 2012 Accord is right in line of where we want to be, and the 2013 Accord is doing extremely well since it's release back in September. Your focus and selling effort on Accord is greatly appreciated.
Obviously, Accord sales makeup a huge part of getting to the company goal of 1,300,000 by the end of the year; however, Civic's role is just as important. You may be aware that the refreshed 2013 Civic will be available for sale on November 29, 2012. When it arrives on your lots you will see dramatic improvements to the exterior styling that moves Civic into a more premium sporty direction. The interior has even more upgrades and improvements to bring more sophistication and quality to its appearance. As I said in Philadelphia, we are taking a good Civic that is currently the leading selling vehicle in the small car segment regardless of fleet sales, and made is a great car. This is a car the breathes the famous Honda driveability, quality, reliability (DQR) that has made Honda what it is today. A brand that consumers want us to produce for you to sell. This vehicle is not produced simply to catch up to our competition it is being produced to expand its dominance and reign once again as the bench mark of the small car segment.
Civic makes up almost 25% of our 990,00 Honda sales for the year - it is a critical component in our goal to reach 1.3 million sales for the year. For your dealership to take full advantage of the refreshed Civic and the marketing we will have supporting it you must greatly increase the turn rate on our 2012 Civics. With the unprecedented enhancements we have made to the current Civic after its first year in its cycle you will want to have little to no Civics on hand at arrival time of this refreshed 2013 model. The changes made to the 2013 model will make the outgoing 2012 Civic a difficult model sell when they are side to side. I strongly encourage you to discuss your Civic inventory situation with your district manager today, and set up a sell down strategy that will reduce your total remaining model year 2012 Civics by a minimum of 60% before December 1, 2012. I cannot stress enough, sell down of your 2012 Civics is critical to the 2013 Civic launch and the success of inventory balance at your dealership.
Take action now! The 2013 Civic will come to your at full speed. Our plant in Indiana which produces Civic will run at full capacity with Civic production, and we will even get production from Canada too. Commit to reduce your model year 2012 Civics by 60% or more before December 1, 2012. And be prepared on November 29, to receive the greatest Civic ever produced!
Assistant Vice President Honda National Sales