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|30th October 2009, 19:57||#1|
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9th Gen Civic to be smaller and lighter
Honda tears up its old product plan
TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. is reviewing its entire lineup with the aim of building less expensive and more fuel-efficient vehicles, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito says.
In the case of some next-generation products -- including the crucial Civic platform used on a variety of vehicles worldwide -- that means making major changes to vehicles already well along in the development process.
"We are taking more time to rethink the new Civic and all our models," Ito told Automotive News through an interpreter. "We had to revisit our development work and planning to comply with the change in the environment."
Smaller, lighter Civic
Specifically, Honda executives told Civic designers and engineers to make the car smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient than originally designed, said Tsuneo Tanai, COO for automotive operations.
Tanai said that before Lehman Bros. imploded in September 2008 and intensified the global financial crisis, Honda already was concerned about rising oil, steel and aluminum prices.
But Lehman Bros.' collapse and the global economic meltdown that followed prompted Ito to act. In December, his mandated re-evaluation led to killing Honda's V-8 and rear-wheel-drive programs.
Now, Tanai said, Honda is focusing on reducing weight on all its platforms and expanding its hybrid powertrain technology to more vehicle lines.
It also has added electric vehicles, which Honda initially opposed, to bump up the Honda fleet's fuel efficiency and lower its emissions.
The next Civic originally was planned to be larger than the current model, but now its exterior will be smaller. Honda aims to create a perceived sense of increased roominess inside without increasing the vehicle's overall size.
Making such midstream changes can be costly and cause significant delays in releasing a new product. Maintaining its product cadence will be difficult, as the redesigned Civic is due to arrive in less than a year if Honda follows a typical five-year cycle.
Ito and Tanai declined to talk about launch timing for the Civic or other vehicles. However, Ito said: "The team is struggling. We are injecting more manpower to meet our target."
Delaying the Civic platform would have a ripple effect across Honda's lineup, as other vehicles share the Civic's basic architecture: the CR-V and Element, Japan's Stream small minivan and Europe's FR-V.
Tanai is confident Honda is making the right choice. In May 2008, when gasoline prices peaked and consumer confidence was slumping, Honda hit a sales record for the Civic, beating even the Ford F-series pickup, the perennial U.S. sales leader.
"We perceived that U.S. customers are sensitive to the external environment, and their response is very direct. We felt we needed to take this into account," Tanai said through an interpreter.
The "Lehman shock," as Ito calls it, also caused Honda to re-evaluate its pricing strategy, to make its vehicles more affordable.
"The easiest option would be to make products cheaper, but we have to not only cut the price but also maintain the highest quality," Ito said. "This applies to all models, but the biggest is the world Civic."
Honda tears up its old product plan - Automotive News
|30th October 2009, 20:07||#2|
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Good that a company thinks like this way.
The interior space however may not be compromised which suggests safety will be a challenge.
|30th October 2009, 22:51||#3|
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The Japanese know how to utilize space. Look at Jazz, they have managed to utilize the available space quite well. This fact comes up when you compare it with GP. GP prefers form over function.
Similar thoughts were applied when the current generation Civic was being developed. The current Civic does not utilize the available space efficiently.
The major concern will be utilizing the available horizontal and vertical space in a very efficient manner.
Safety will not be a very major concern as Honda now got some 5/5 ENCAP models in 2008. Then the Jazz also scored 5/5, so they know how to pack in safety, but yes, it will be tougher.
I think downsizing will be done by many manufacturers. Even Audi A8 that will come in 2010 is reported to have being downsized, but some sources say its not so. But overall this trend is catching up.
I respect Honda for being honestly coming up with plans and confirming that the project is suffering and they are adding more manpower.
What I am more interested in knowing is what will be next generation Corolla ?
I think the new Civic will not come anytime soon. The currnet generation is selling well and if the information stated by Honda is correct, they will need atleast 1.5 years.
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