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ADELAIDE, AAP – Japanese car producer Honda has confirmed plans to revamp its operations in Australia by turning its dealers into representatives, with all vehicle stocks to be held by the company and car prices fixed.

The change will come into force in July with the brand to have between 90 and 95 Honda Experience Centres and Satellite Service Centres across the country.

The majority of those centres will be owned and operated by existing Honda dealers, who will become Honda Representatives.

Honda says the agency-style arrangement will include a streamlined product line-up with a focus on its best selling models – the CR-V, HR-V and the Civic.

It says customers will experience a simpler and more transparent buying experience that will reduce the stress sometimes associated with a new car purchase.

That includes consistent pricing, regardless of where a car is bought.

“Honda Australia’s customer experience is already great, but the new model will make it even better,” Honda Australia Director Stephen Collins said.

“Our new model addresses the core challenges in our industry, and we look forward to writing our next chapter and engaging with our customers in a new way in 2021 and beyond, for a stronger Honda for years to come,”

The Australian Automotive Dealer Association said recently it was keeping an open mind on Honda’s shift to an agency model.

Chief Executive James Voortman said many dealers were anxious about the change, including their inability to negotiate with customers on price.

He said they were concerned about long-term customers potentially going elsewhere if there was no “deal” on offer.

Mr Voortman said Mercedes Benz had also indicated it would shift to an agency model in 2022, and he expected other manufacturers to look at it as well.

Honda’s sales dipped by almost 34 per cent in 2020 to just over 29,000 and the company said it expected the downward trend would continue until demand stabilised in the second half of 2021.

It forecast sales of about 1650 a month from July and said “chasing volume” was no longer the primary driver for the business.

It said sales would continue to be subject to other factors including product availability and market preferences.

The company plans to add new models to its line-up, including hybrid versions.