That is James B. Treece’s opinion on why the third largest Japanese automaker is in trouble. Treece, who covers the Asian region for Automotive News, points out how the company was out on the forefront ahead of Toyota and Nissan back in the mid-nineties with such vehicles as the Odyssey and the CR-V. But when the company tried to sell its new Ridgeline, consumers pulled back.

Why? Treece believes former Honda president Nobuhiko Kawamoto, who pushed the company to the forefront, also ill-prepared its management to take risks when he retired.

Can current CEO Takeo Fukui bring the company out of its doldrums? One of the company’s recent issues has been low sales of the Acura RL, the flagship of that brand, which some analysts attribute to the car's conservative design. But Acura is building a design studio in California, joining other automakers' artists in the state.

Can Honda recapture its edge, or is it destined to be surpassed by its former imitators?