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Being the savvy multinational corporation Honda is, it has to take its knocks with some tact. And with its reputation marred by Consumer Reports’ dragging of the 2012 Honda Civic through the muck, it’s no surprise that Honda has issued a statement claiming that they “fundamentally disagree” with the magazine’s review.
Both Honda and Consumer Reports, of course, have valuable reputations in the minds of consumers. And so, “they are definitely finding fault with someone they have shown a lot of love in the past,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for Honda North America.
Mendel picks apart the CR review and finds that “Consumer Reports’ own testing found that Civic’s smooth and efficient powertrain returned “…an impressive 30 mpg overall on regular fuel and 47 mpg on the highway. Only one other compact car the magazine tested did better.” In addition, “as noted in Consumer Reports findings, the Civic excels with a long list of important safety features that are standard on all trim levels.”
Rival publication Motor Trend, “which knows a thing or two about ride and handling,” picked Civic 2nd among eight compact cars in a recent comparison test. This, Mendel says, is proof that the Civic is still a player in the already-competitive small car market. “However, we disagree with Motor Trend as well—we think there is no better compact car than Civic.” Hey now, don’t get greedy!
Lastly, Mendel notes that CR only reviewed one model of the Civic, the LX sedan, while there are six different models across three trim levels. While this could be construed as a fair point, we doubt that some of the Civic’s greater shortcomings could be drastically improved with the ticking of an options box.
Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Honda Civic review or hit the jump to watch the video:
Every time a new version of a car is introduced sales are expected to spike. That, however, is not the case with the all-new 2012 Honda Civic with American Honda Motor Co. sales boss John Mendel warning dealers in a memo that supply will be “severely restricted, with limited availability of certain models.”
Due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the document sent to dealers states that production of the new car will, “be at significantly reduced levels at least during the summer months.” As a result, some industry experts are predicting that instead of the usual spike for a new model, Civic sales could drop below the 2010 figure of 260,000 units.
“With an all-new and improved model, Honda of course targeted to sell more,” says Christina Ra, Manager Honda Public Relations. Unwilling to speculate on exactly how much the restricted supply could damage sales of the Civic, Ra did admit that, “Obviously, if a customer really needs to make a purchase, wants the Civic and can’t get it… there are choices that must be made on the customer’s part.”
While serious problem for any car in any year, this could hamper momentum on the new Civic and hurt its long term success in an increasingly competitive market. Hyundai’s new Elantra is off to a strong start and while Honda used to be able to count on a lack of competition from domestic automakers, both Ford’s new Focus and the new Chevy Cruze are both credible threats in the marketplace.
With supply limited due to production, and not demand, the imbalance between dealer inventories and customer buying habits could cause prices to rise. Ra was unwilling to comment on how dealers will react to the admitted imbalance between supply and demand, instead commenting that as independent entities they would be left to govern themselves.
No indication was given on if availability of particular Civic models could be more affected by the shortage.
The good news, says Ra, is that, “there is a tangible end in sight,” with Honda’s goal of normalizing production by the end of the year.
Discuss this and more at 9thGenCivic.com
Even though Toyota saw its dealerships and other facilities picketed by UAW members in 2010, Honda is taking a tough stance on any interference by the United Auto Workers, with John Mendel, Honda‘s executive vice-president, dismissing them in a speech made on Tuesday.
“The union announced that they’re going to target the operations of international automakers this year,” said Mendel, while speaking to the American International Automobile Dealers Association. “The issue of union representation is one for our associates to decide, not us. Having said that, we do not believe that an outside party will improve upon [our] outstanding track record of success … over the past 30-plus years.”
Mendel stressed that the prime directive for dealers was to “remain focused on your relationship with your customers and associates.
The new Honda CR-Z will go on sale in the U.S. on August 24th, with a starting price of under $20,000 reports InsideLine. Unfortunately the car will not be eligible for a federal tax credit. Apparently the rules state that only 60,000 tax credits for hybrids are allowed per automaker and Honda spokesman Chuck Schifsky told IL that Honda passed that mark several years ago. Honda is able to offer the car for so little because of the less-sophisticated nickle-metal hydride battery used (rather than a lithium-ion one).
At that price range Honda intents to target buyers aged 25-35, although initial reports from Japan suggest the car is a bigger hit with an older demographic.
Sadly, for performance enthusiasts who might be attracted to the CR-Z’s small size and styling, Honda says a higher performance Si or Type R model is not in the plans. John Mendel, Honda’s VP of sales wasn’t exactly forceful on the point, however, commenting that there’s “nothing official” in the product plans. There are also no plans for a pure electric model, with Honda holding the belief that for some applications EVs will work, but that for normal use in the U.S., Honda just doesn’t see an EV catching on – at least with the current range capabilities.
Honda’s new CR-Z makes 122-hp and 128 ft-lbs of torque from a 1.5-liter gasoline engine mated to an electric motor, using Honda’s Integrate Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. Fuel economy is expected to reach 31/37-mpg (city/highway) for the 6-speed manual and 35/39-mpg for the CVT automatic.
GALLERY: Honda CR-Z Mega Gallery
The next-generation Honda Civic will be delayed until 2011, possibly as a 2012 model year car. This will put the Civic significantly past the typical five-year cycle, stretching until six or possibly even seven years before the ninth-generation car debuts. The current Civic arrived back in September of 2005, making it already quite dated.
Honda COO Tsuneo Tanai admitted at last year’s Tokyo Auto Show that significant changes were being made to the Civic, which was already getting close to production.
The reason for the drastic updates is due to significantly tougher fuel economy targets says American Honda Motor Co.’s VP John Mendel. The move is also, no doubt, attributed to serious competition from unfamiliar foes like the Ford and Chevy, which have both promised 40-mpg versions of the Focus and Cruze. While Honda is often known to be a fuel economy leader, as it stands the current lineup of cars is set to be outmatched by emerging domestic rivals in the sub-compact class; and improvements of just one or two miles per gallon won’t be enough to put Honda on top.
Rather than bring the planned Civic to market and have it fail, Honda is choosing to hang on to the current model (which, luckily for them is already quite good) in order to plan and come out with something better.
The news follows a report that Honda CEO Takanobu Ito is “not satisfied” with his company’s performance and the complacent attitude that has set in among its leaders.
As for the CR-V, Mendel confirmed that it will stock to a five-year production cycle with a redesign coming next year.
[Source: Autmotive News]
Car companies are eternally focused on capturing the all important “youth-market”, some even going as far as to create “youth brands”, like Toyota and their Scion line-up. Honda appears to be taking the opposite track with the launch of their new CR-Z hybrid sports car, hoping to take advantage of the demographic that was in their late teens to late 20′s between 1983 and 1991, when they CRX was, “the ultimate tuner vehicle”, said John Mendel, Honda’s Executive Vice-Preisdent for Automobile Sales. Mendel, who is 55 said that market research showed that the CR-Z was a hit with ” young people and guys my age, because it’s reminiscent of the CR-X.”
Honda’s discontinued products, such as previous generation Civics, Preludes Acura Integras and NSXs still command a huge following, even from consumers who weren’t born when the products were introduced. Honda is hoping to reach the younger generation of automotive enthusiasts through online media and social networking sites. Mendel said that Honda was also looking into sponsoring concerts that had multi-generational appeal.
[Source: Automotive News]
The entry-level TSX model will be the first Acura offered with a hybrid powertrain. According to one dealer sourced by Automotive News, the TSX hybrid will be offered starting in 2011.
This news comes as somewhat of a surprise as previous rumors had suggested the next RL model would be Acura’s first hybrid, combining a gasoline V6 engine and hybrid technology to deliver V8-like power – a convenient way for Acura to get around its policy to not offer a V8.
Hybrid versions of other Acuras are also expected to follow soon after with John Mendel, head of sales for American Honda Motor Co., confirming that fact.
Presumably the Acura TSX Hybrid will be the first full hybrid offered from Honda, as all previous hybrid models (including the just-announced CR-Z) use Honda’s IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) mild hybrid setup. The IMA technology, while cheaper, is significantly less advanced and doesn’t deliver the same level of fuel economy.
[Source: Automotive News via Autoblog]
The Element, the ugly duckling of the Honda lineup, will live on for a second generation. According to a report by Automotive News, Honda VP John Mendel has confirmed that despite the car’s underachieving sales numbers there are good reasons to introduce a modernized version of the functional box.
The largest argument for keeping the Element around is that it attracts a certain type of customer to Honda dealerships that wouldn’t otherwise be interested in a Honda. Surprisingly, despite the fact that the Element shares its platform with the high-volume CR-V, almost no one cross-shops the two. Element owners also tend to be a loyal bunch, so presumably Honda is hoping to move original owners into a new model.
For the most part, many had assume the Element was slated for the scrap heap of history after its seven year production cycle (two longer than the average) hadn’t produced a single second generation concept.
Originally Honda had targeted the Element at 75,000 units sold on an annual basis. This year it is on track for just 15,000.
There is no word on when the second generation Element could arrive, although it could be as early as the 2011 model year.
[Source: Automotive News via Autoblog]
Company execs warn Insight may not hit forecasted sales goal
Honda is warning that it may not meet its forecasted sales target for the all-new 2010 Insight hybrid and is citing both the worldwide recession and the low cost of gas as factors.
The Japanese automaker set an ambitious target of 200,000 units for the car’s first year, with almost half of those vehicle sales being in the U.S.
“Given some dramatic change in things, I don’t think we’ll get to 90,000. At 50,000 to 60,000, we will be just fine,” said Honda America VP John Mendel to Bloomberg. Despite this news Honda is not updating its forecast.
According to a Reuters report Honda is also concentrating on sales in Japan right now, as unfavorable exchange rates with the U.S. mean that profit margins are slim for cars sold in the U.S.
In Japan, the Insight was the best selling car in the month of April, but Honda lost that title in May to the 2010 Toyota Prius.
U.S. Insight sales may get a significant boost in the second half of 2009 if the Cash for Guzzlers legislation comes into effect. With an average fuel-economy rating of 41 mpg, the Insight will be an ideal candidate for those looking to get a deal as they trade in their high-mpg car or truck.
The Cash for Guzzlers bill gives as much at $4,500 for new vehicles that exceed the traded-in vehicles’ fuel-economy rating by 10 mpg. And at a starting price of just $19,800, there are a lot of 31 mpg cars that can be traded in to make that total just $14,300.
[Source: Automotive News]
Fleet average set at 35.5 mpg by 2016
Yesterday President Obama announced a new proposal being put forward to increase fuel-economy standards across the board. If enacted, the legislation would see the fleet average for passenger vehicles rise to 35.5 mpg by 2016.
Currently automakers are facing an 8 percent increase in fuel-economy standards that would see fleet averages for light-vehicles (cars and trucks) at 27.3 mpg for 2011. Cars would have to achieve a fleet average of 30.2 mpg by that date.
The new legislation would see increases of 5 percent annually after that, with a fleet average of 35.5 mpg by 2016.
President Obama made the announcement at the White House yesterday and was joined by representatives of 10 supporting automakers and the UAW. In attendance were GM CEO Fritz Henderson, Ford’s Alan Mullaly, Chrysler’s Bob Nardelli, Toyota’s Jim Lentz, Honda’s John Mendel, BMW’s Friedrich Eichiner, Nissan’s Dominique Thormann, Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche, Mazda’s Jim O’Sullivan, Volkswagen’s Stefan Jacoby and the UAW’s Ron Gettelfinger.
If enacted the proposal would reduce America’s fuel-consumption by 1.8 billion barrels of oil.
The agreement was arrived at with the consent of California, which will cease to have its own fuel-economy standards.
The cost of achieving the new fuel-economy standard is expected to be roughly $600 per vehicle, a tab that will no doubt be passed along to the consumer.
[Source: Automotive News]
Several months ago we reported that Acura has achieved an historic first by earning a perfect rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for every vehicle in its lineup.
Now Acura has claimed another manufacturer first after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the new Acura TL a perfect 5 star rating. Along with the TL, every other vehicle Acura sells has a perfect 5 star rating from the NHTSA, giving the company the best possible safety score in every vehicle it sells, in both recognized safety
This not only means that the Acura lineup is safe when it comes to withstanding an impact, but the IIHS requires stability control (a life-saving technology) to be on a car in order for it to be award a Top Safety Pick rating.
“No other automotive brand has accomplished what Acura has, nor can make the safety claims that Acura can,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of automobile sales. “When consumers think safety, they really should think Acura.”
Official release after the jump: