Honda does not expect to return to the annual fleet sales level of 36,000 it last saw in 2007 for another four years, according to head of corporate sales Graham Avent.

“I have the unenviable title of taking the Honda fleet volume from 36,000 a year to 26,000 in a couple of years,” Avent said. “It won’t be back up at 2007 levels until 2014. Sales will be static this year and next before they start to rise.”

The reason for the drop, according to Avent, was that Honda saw the recession coming, sales were drying up and stocks were starting to build, so stopped production and used the time to upgrade the factory, rather than distress-sell cars.

“As a result, Honda residual values this year are up above Cap Monitor by 9% when the market average is 4% above. This is due to the cutbacks made in the recession,” he said.

Commenting on Honda’s hybrid plans, Avent said: “Insight has had a slow start with less than 1000 sold to fleets last year, but the order bank is up 85%. Our early investment in hybrids will pay off – 80% of CRZs are going to fleets, although this is an early figure.”