Honda Europe promotes veteran exec Ross to sales chief

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Honda Motor Europe has promoted veteran executive Philip Ross to senior vice president for sales as the carmaker seeks to strengthen its local management team ahead of a product offensive.

Ross's appointment follows the naming of Ian Howells as Honda Europe's senior vice president of all non-sales business functions last April. Both men will report to Honda Europe President Manabu Nishimae.

The changes to Honda's European management team come as the carmaker prepares to boost its lineup starting next year with the new Jazz subcompact, NSX supercar, Civic Type R compact and an all-new European version of the Vezel small SUV.

The move to freshen the product lineup in Europe is part of a wider drive to boost the Japanese automaker's global sales by 2017 and to make the European unit profitable by 2016.

Honda has not made money in Europe since 2007 and originally planned to be in the black again during its 2013-2014 business year that ends March 31.

Last year, Honda sales in the EU and EFTA markets fell 1 percent to 139,712, giving the automaker a market share of 1.1 percent, according to data from industry association ACEA.

Ross joined Honda in 1996 and was responsible for setting up Honda's own finance company, which he has overseen for 17 years. As part of his new job he will head European sales for Honda's cars, motorcycles and power equipment. Prior to joining Honda, Ross held senior finance roles at carmakers Porsche and Toyota.

Ross will lead all of Honda's sales activities in Europe.

Honda Motor Co. President Takanobu Ito has said the automaker aims to boost overall global sales to 6 million vehicles in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, from 4 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013.

Key models such as the Vezel crossover, which will compete in Europe's increasingly popular small SUV segment, and the Jazz, are expected to account for global sales of 1.6 million units by 2016, Ito said.

You can reach David Jolley at djolley@crain.com.

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