Honda Passport could soon be axed

may soon axe the Passport, the Isuzu-designed, U.S.-built model that gave them
relatively quick and painless access to the burgeoning SUV market back in 1994.

The Japanese firm recently launched its own in-house designed and built SUV,
the car-like, Acura-badged MDX, which is proving very popular. Honda is also
expanding production of its smash-hit Odyssey minivan.



Insiders say that Passport sales have been affected by a swing in consumer
preferences away from truck-based SUVs to newer models (like the MDX) that look,
ride and drive more like cars.

Honda America’s contract with Passport maker Subaru-Isuzu in Indiana expires
in 2003, by when Honda plans to have increased annual North American sales by
8 percent to 1,450,000 vehicles. Key to this is improving their SUV lineup,
and a cheaper Honda-badged version of Acura’s MDX is on the cards.

For their part, Isuzu has done well with re-badged ‘OEM’ models like
the Passport. It sells pickup models, on which the Honda clone is based, all
over the world with a variety of badges including its own, Chevrolet, Vauxhall,
Opel and Holden, while Rodeo and Rodeo Sport versions built in the SIA Indiana
plant with the Passport are sold as Isuzus in North America.

Across the Atlantic, essentially the same SUVs are built in England by Vauxhall
for sale as the Frontera line-up and these are exported to Ireland and Europe
with Opel badging and to Australasia as Holdens.

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