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Honda NZ changes agency model

Six of the previous 19 independent Honda dealers have withdrawn from the brand after the company completed months of in-person consultation on a new national agency model network.

This will enable Honda customers to buy directly from Honda either in their local store or through a new e-Commerce platform.

Among those who chose not to take up one of the three options Honda NZ offered was McKendry Motors in Blenheim which had been selling the brand for almost 50 years. 

Another to go was Southern Motor Group in Dunedin which had represented the brand since 1992. 

Two dealerships, Kapiti Honda and Taranaki Honda, went into voluntary liquidation.  

South Auckland Honda, also chose not to continue.  The company is a subsidiary of CMC (Colonial Motor Company) and had only acquired the asset in April 2019. Managing director Matthew Newman said “I know the Honda people and respect them. However, the economics of their proposition was not viable for us.” 

He says all staff have been retained and the company is “re-purposing its site for another automotive option.” 

David Jones Motors in Whanganui said the new model didn’t work for them either. “However, we are delighted that we have secured Hyundai for our site.” 

Honda consulted all 19 of its independent dealers to explain the new structure and outline three store structures:    

A Honda Store model, with workshop and sales staff employed by the independent operator with all new sales done online with Honda New Zealand. 

The new Honda Service Store model with the operator carrying out the workshop servicing and providing space for Honda-owned demonstrators and a Honda-employed brand ambassador.  

Authorised Service Store, which services Honda vehicles. independent operator with all new sales done online with Honda New Zealand.

MTA Dealer Sector Manager Tony Everett says the new Honda sales model is unique and time will tell if it works for the independent sites.  “With all cars, new and used, bought and sold by Honda New Zealand, there appears to be limited ways to make money – particularly when Honda requires the site to house only the Honda franchise.  Honda makes a payment to the independent operator on each new car sale and each delivery to a customer. However, there appeared to be a sticking point around the used car trading process.” 

He says while the model may not match with traditional dealership expectations, it is presenting an opportunity for workshops such as Invercargill’s Windsor Motors which was appointed as Honda’s first Service Store. 

Honda New Zealand General Sales Manager Peter Ashley says, “We respect the decision of the independent agents that have decided not to join us on this new journey. We have enjoyed long standing relationships with them and wish them the very best going forward.”

“We have reached agreements with all remaining agents which delivers 18 Honda Stores, six Honda Service Stores and two Authorised Service Centres. This will see Honda New Zealand taking full responsibility for our customers from Kaitaia to Invercargill.”

“This significant change to our service model is about  putting our customers at the heart of everything we do. We wanted all our independent sites to come with us, but respect that this change wasn’t for some.” 

He says the introduction of the service store and authorised service store model, will broaden Honda New Zealand’s coverage in New Zealand. Progress on this includes the opening of a new Honda Store in Nelson, bringing the number of Honda NZ-owned stores to eight.