Honda may miss Insight sales target in U.S.

TOKYO Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:45pm EDT

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co (7267.T) may fall short of its U.S. sales goal for the new Insight hybrid by a third in the model's first year due to the recession and relatively cheap gasoline, Bloomberg reported, citing a top local executive.

"Given some dramatic change in things, I don't think we'll get to 90,000. At 50,000 to 60,000, we will be just fine," Bloomberg cited American Honda Motor Executive Vice President John Mendel as saying.

Japan's No.2 automaker has forecast annual worldwide sales of 200,000 units for the Insight, which went on sale first in Japan in February and in late March in the United States. Honda expects to sell half of that in North America.

A spokesman in Tokyo said there had been no change in Honda's sales forecast.

But Honda Chief Executive Takeo Fukui told Reuters last month that while response to the Insight has been good in the United States, Honda was placing priority on meeting brisk demand in the Japanese market partly due to unfavorable exchange rates.

Shares in Honda were down 1.8 percent in mixed trade for Japanese auto stocks.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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