Honda N-series sales in Europe
In theory it should have been easier to sell the N600 in the European market then in the USA. This because Europeans were and are more accustomed to small cars. Unfortunately the N600 never sold very well in Europe. First of all there was no single european market at that time and many markets were heavily protected with import duties and non-tariff barriers. This was especially the case for larger markets with their own domestic brands. For this reason there have never been many N600’s sold in Italy, which is the largest European market for small cars. Another reason was that Honda was only known as a motorcycle brand. Just like in the USA, the N600 mainly had to be sold by motorcycle dealerships as no car dealership network existed.
The N600 had to compete against models such as the VW Beetle and NSU Prinz in Germany, the Fiat 500, Fiat 600 and Autobianchi A112 in Italy, the Mini 850 and Hillman Imp in the UK, the Citroen 2CV and Renault 4 in France and the DAF 33 in the Netherlands. The N600 clearly was very modern compared to these cars. The Fiat 600, VW Beetle, Hillman Imp and NSU Prinz all featured rear wheel drive and a rear mounted engine. Of the cars mentioned only the DAF 33 was like the N-Series available with automatic transmission. The light alloy engine of the N600 propelled it to a top speed higher than many of its European-built rivals and also gave excellent fuel consumption.