Japanese automakers take aim at Europe's growing wagon segment
Honda, Toyota follow Korean rivals in targeting niche
The European market for compact station wagons is becoming more competitive after Honda said it will join Toyota in adding a wagon variant to its Civic lineup.
Honda is set to unveil a wagon version of the Civic hatchback at the Geneva auto show in March and launch the car in the autumn.
The wagon will be built alongside the Civic hatchback at Honda's plant in Swindon, England.
Toyota will launch the Auris Touring Sports wagon next year. The car is 385mm longer than the Auris hatchback.
At the Paris auto show last September, Toyota unveiled a wagon version of the Auris that will go on sale this year. Toyota said wagon variants account for about 25 percent of compact sales in Europe and its model will be the first in the segment to offer a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, which is also available in the Auris hatchback.
The Honda and Toyota wagons will also compete against wagon variants of the Hyundai i30, Kia Cee'd and Chevrolet Cruze already on the market, as well as long-established wagon versions of cars such as the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus and Renault Megane.
Honda expects 20 percent of Civic sales in Europe to be wagons. "We sold a Civic wagon about 15 years ago but stopped when the market was declining. Now we see the market potential as growing," a Honda spokesman told Automotive News Europe.
Production of the Civic wagon in Swindon will replace the Jazz, which is currently built in the plant for the UK market. The rest of Europe gets Jazz gasoline and diesel models built in China and gasoline-electric hybrids built in Japan.
You can reach Nick Gibbs at firstname.lastname@example.org.