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Chinese-built cars are arriving in North America, but before you reach for the keypad, we’re not talking about hordes of BYD, Chery, Geely or Brilliance models washing up on our shores, rather the fact that Honda is now importing Chinese assembled examples of its Fit subcompact for consumers in Canada.
This forms part of a decision by Honda and other Japanese automakers to reduce dependence on vehicle production in the Home Islands due to the current high value of the yen against other major world currencies, which is severely eating into profit margins.
In Honda’s case it also helps squeeze more money out of its small cars, which are relatively popular with buyers in Canada, yet traditionally far less profitable than larger models.
In terms of quality (often a subject that’s brought up regarding Chinese consumer goods), Honda says it shouldn’t be an issue, it’s Canadian executive vice president Jerry Cherkin stating, “we are fully confident that these vehicles meet all Honda standards.”
Honda has been exporting Chinese built Fits for some time, particularly to European countries (where it’s sold as the Jazz) with few issues, thus in many regards adding Canada to the roster of export markets seems a logical step.
However, despite these Fits showing up on dealer lots north of the border, so far, there are no plans to sell such cars in the United States.
Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com believes American consumers are more resistant to the idea of buying Chinese products, especially cars, thus the concept of doing so at this point, given that the US is still a major source of both profit and prestige for Japanese automakers, would probably not work in Honda’s favor.
[Source: NY Times]
The latest company to suffer a security breach is Honda, which recently admitted over a quarter of a million customers in Canada had their personal information stolen by hackers.
In total 283,000 Honda and Acura customers in Canada had their names, addresses and vehicle VIN numbers harvested from the e-commerce MyHonda and MyAcura sites. Honda has notified affected customers but insists no financial information was taken, nor did the data contain information regarding birth dates, telephone numbers and email addresses.
Still Honda Canada is warning against “phishing” tactics, with the data possibly being used to target owners, acknowledging that they are Honda or Acura drivers.
Last year Honda’s U.S. operations suffered a similar security breach with two million of its customers affected.
Honda is recalling 1,156 brand new 2012 Civics in the United States due to a leaking fuel issue. Honda Canada has also announced a recall of 377 Civics.
The Civics recalled were assembled from April 21 to May 2. Honda said the fuel line in the Civic could leak do to a production error occurring if an O-ring that seals the fuel was misaligned. So far, no injuries or fires have been reported.
Honda said they will repair the affected Hondas, including those currently sitting on dealer lots.
In response to rumors that Honda‘s Canadian division would axe the low-selling Insight and Civic Hybrid, Honda Canada has issued a statement confirming plans to continue sales of the two models… for now.
We contacted Honda Canada and received a message from PR boss Richard Jacobs confirming the models for the future, but the “official statement” also included an important qualifying statement.
Calling the rumor just what it is, Jacobs says there is currently a six month supply of both models. “Honda Canada is planning to offer both Insight and Civic Hybrid as 2011 model-year units, and we have no plans to discontinue either model.”
That sounds quite certain, however, also included in Honda Canada’s official position is the statement that, “Honda Canada will listen to the voice of our customers and
will bring the products they want. If there is market demand for Insight
and Civic Hybrid, we will bring the appropriate supply.”
That’s less reassuring, as demand is obviously the key issue here with sales of just 748 Insight models and 643 Civic Hybrids so far this year indicating that Canadian’s are not interested in either model.
Honda may drop both the Civic Hybrid and the Insight from its lineup in Canada. According to a recent report by Monvolant, the two hybrids will be eliminated from the product plan – likely in response to dismally poor sales. This would then leave the new CR-Z as the only hybrid in Honda Canada’s lineup.
When the Insight launched over a year ago, Honda Canada projected sales of 10,000 units. But poor press, a high-dollar asking price and competition from the significantly more fuel efficient third-generation Toyota Prius may all be contributing factors to the fact that just 748 Insights have been sold so far this year. Worse still are Civic Hybrid sales, with just 643 units moved in 2010.
With such low Honda hybrid sales you’d expect the Prius to be conquesting a lot of buyers, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with just 2,272 third-gen Prius models sold in Canada so far this year. While there are no hard facts surrounding why Canadians are turning away from hybrids, possible factors include the higher price of the cars in Canada, the lack of large urbanized cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal stand out as exceptions) and the colder climate often means hybrids don’t perform up to their lofty MPG targets.