- Alfa Romeo
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After having taken quite a beating with reviews of the new Civic, Honda has been on the offensive, promising updates while announcing its new “ Earth Dreams Technology” plan to reestablish itself as a fuel economy leader. With the debut of the EV-STER electric sports car concept and confirmation that a new NSX is on the horizon, company president Takanobu Ito is now going a step further, while explaining the faults of the past.
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito has given a look at the direction Honda will be taking in the coming years, putting strong emphasis on small cars and hybrids. At his annual mid-year speech, Ito gave a rough outline of the Japanese automaker’s future direction, while dropping a few important notes about new products.
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‘s newish Insight hybrid had a lot of buzz when it first launched, but in just a year it has since faded into oblivion. Sure it undercut the Prius in price, but it didn’t get near the mpgs, and wasn’t the sort of dynamic drive that people have come to expect from a Honda. We didn’t hate the car, but we did find it to be lacking in the sort of engineering prowess Honda prides itself in. Our feelings were echoed by the industry and consumers, who opted for Toyota’s more efficient (if more expensive) Prius at a 5 to 1 rate.
Slowly, Honda appears to be learning how the hybrid marketplace works. In a recent interview Honda CEO Takanobu Ito said that the company is working on more powerful two-mode hybrid systems (like the one used by Toyota) that will allow for the car to operate using either gas, electricity or a combination of both. Currently, Honda’s IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) setup does not allow for electric-only driving and as a result the system isn’t nearly as efficient as Toyota’s – although it is much cheaper to produce.
Honda is looking to make big changes across its product lineup, and the first model to go under the microscope is the next generation of the award winning and incredibly popular Civic. The Japanese automaker wants to make all of its vehicles more fuel efficient and less expensive, which will require significant changes to the Civic, a car that is already well-along in the development process.
Speaking to reporters at the Tokyo Auto Show, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito suggested that when the time is right he would like to build a “green” sports car. The Japanese automaker faces two big hurdles first, however: a lack of cash as well as insufficient technology. “Once we have that technology and once we have cash on hand, I would like to see Honda have a sports car that symbolizes our technology,” he told Automotive News.