Editor's note: Vicki Poponi's title was incorrect in earlier versions of this story. She is vice president of automotive marketing operations for American Honda.
DETROIT -- American Honda is working to meet fast-growing demand for SUVs but believes sedans are still well worth the investment.
Vicki Poponi, vice president of automotive marketing operations for American Honda, said Tuesday that while the brand has struck a "nice balance" between light trucks and cars, its mainstay four-door sedans, the Civic and Accord, remain strong sellers.
"The rumors of the death of the sedan are grossly exaggerated," she told Automotive News. "It's a shrinking segment, and the Accord's growing in volume. I think the current generation, the outgoing generation of Accord, was very stylish and sophisticated-looking, and that pulled people toward that car."
Honda's 10th-generation Accord began reaching dealerships this month. Poponi said the Accord remains the No. 2 car in America on a retail basis, behind the smaller Civic, though the Toyota Camry is still the top midsize car in total volume. She noted that Honda sells more Accords than 30 other brands sell of their entire lineups.
With sales of more than 250,000 units in the first nine months of 2017, the Accord is on track for its sixth consecutive year surpassing 300,000, even as the midsize segment faces increasing pressure from crossovers. Accord sales are down 2.9 percent year to date.
Last year, automakers sold 2.1 million midsize cars, and Poponi expects the segment, down 15 percent through September, to total 1.9 million units for 2017. It's likely that compact cars, down only 5.2 percent in comparison, will finish the year ahead of their midsize counterparts for the first time ever.
Meanwhile, Honda is upping its light-truck production. The company shifted output of the Acura MDX to East Liberty, Ohio, from Lincoln, Ala., allowing the Alabama plant to focus on Pilot production. A third plant, in Greensburg, Ind., will be used to increase CR-V production, and capacity has been added at a Mexican plant for the smaller HR-V.
"We're really committed to the passenger car segment, in the long-term view," Poponi said. "I've been around for 12 years, I've seen trucks to cars and the prediction about fuel prices going crazy. I think what we're doing right now from a product perspective is keeping that balance, trucks and cars, knowing that customers may shift depending on the environment."