Why is there a global rivalry between Honda and Toyota?

Why is there a global rivalry between Honda and Toyota?

Or is this rivalry just in Malaysia?

For decades we have witnessed the sales rivalry between Toyota and Honda in Malaysia. Well, it seems that this intense competition is not just in Malaysia but across the globe. In every mature car market, there is an unwritten competition for Toyota management that they must be ahead of Honda in automotive sales and it has been working well for Toyota for as many years as we can remember until about 5 years ago when Honda in Malaysia took the crown away from Toyota and caused a major shakedown at the Toyota headquarters in Japan and also Malaysia.

It was the first time Honda Motor had overtaken Toyota in total sales volume and even worse, it was by a large margin.


 Honda Malaysia celebrated and the news echoed across the globe and the senior management at Honda Malaysia were ‘superstars’.

Toyota in Malaysia had been docile and complacent for years as they had only a handful of models and did little to introduce exciting new models from Japan. The Toyota Vios, Toyota Altis (Corolla), Toyota Hilux and Toyota Camry were all they had and this was enough, in their minds as it delivered superb reliability and good resale values. The Toyota Vios engine had a 14-year lifecycle without any improvement and the Hilux had a number of face-lifts like Joan Collins and both were still very loved by Malaysian buyers.


 Honda had their ASEAN model the ‘City’ to compete with the Vios and provided improved engines and variants to get buyers more interested. 

 Honda also had the Accord to rival the Camry with better styling and more features and let's not forget the Honda Civic which offered more street cred over the Toyota Altis.

Honda Civic

 The Hilux had no rival from Honda as the company had never ventured into the ASEAN pickup truck market like Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Ford and Nissan. Mazda did a joint venture with Ford to ‘play’ in this segment. Honda could have partnered with Isuzu perhaps, but it did not happen. 

 Meanwhile, Honda Malaysia was growing its model line-up with vehicles that Toyota had no interest to compete with. To start, Toyota never bothered to venture into the fast growing and lucrative SUV segment and so Honda dominated it for years with their CR-V

Honda HR-V

 Honda also took on the crossover segment with the HR-V and this became their best seller for a few years. Let's not forget the compact yet spacious Honda Jazz hatchback which grew in popularity year after year and Toyota did not have a rival until they lost their crown and introduced the Toyota Yaris with a whole bunch of influencers to get buyer attention in Malaysia.

 Today, Toyota in Malaysia is back on top and Honda remains a close second like the rest of the world. However, Honda Management in Malaysia is not sitting quietly. They have a game plan to get back the top spot and they just might succeed. 

 For 2022, Honda is launching the all new HR-V very soon. This new HR-V is already stirring a lot of buyer emotions with its smart looks and interesting drivetrain options. Already a success story in Thailand, it might be the winning product to get Honda Malaysia back at the top.

 Is mighty Toyota sitting quietly? We think not as they have some interesting plans about to be shared in the 3rd quarter of 2022. Let the games begin. 

Also read: 10 New cars, SUVs to launch in Malaysia this year

Sell your car at the best price

Verified and genuine buyers Verified and genuine buyers
Free listing Free listing
List your car

You might also be interested in

  • Upcoming

Latest Car Videos on Zigwheels

Watch Car Videos