• Feb 28, 2006
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?


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  • 41 Comments
      MIKE
      • 8 Years Ago
      HONDA'S PROBLEM IS THEY LET OVERPRICED AMERICAN LABOR BUILD THEM.BUILD THEM BACK IN JAPAN SO THE CAN TURN OUT A QUALITY PRODUCT...GET RID OF THE UNIONS!!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      If Honda is "in trouble" that's news to me--and most other people, too.

      The new Honda truck was a gamble--sales momentum will take a while for a company not known for making trucks. Just about everybody who knows anything about light duty trucks speaks favorably about the Ridgeline.

      The new Civic is fairly radical for a mainstream compact car and shows as much risk in its design as makes sense without losing more conservative buyers who want Honda quality in a small car.

      The Accord trails Camry in sales and I think it's because the Accord isn't as typically American as the Camry with its over-soft ride and bland interior.

      The Accord probably has as much "attitude" as it should have for a mid-sized sedan. It'll be interesting to see what Honda does to the Accord for the 2008 model year.

      The Acura RL (poorly named, I agree) is an excellent car, but too expensive. The TL is a much better deal and its style looks great, too.

      No car line is perfect, but Honda comes as close to perfection as any other manufacturer. Just ask Honda owners!
      Art Merwick
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looked at the new Honda civic and liked the technology but hated the interor...Looks like it was designed by one of those web site developers who can not spell.The Toyota Corolla did not have all the goodies built in to the base price but you can get most via options and the price becomes out about the same for what you get. I bought the Toyota. It's a great little car with excellent gas mileage.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I bet GM and Ford wish they had Honda's problem of only two slow selling cars.

      I think Honda takes too many risks. The interior of the new Civic (the SI, anyway) is ridiculous. And insisting on front wheel drive in the Acura line up is silly. I love my Acura, but rear wheel drive would kick it up a notch and ensure my brand loyalty when I replace it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't know what this guy is smoking. Honda is setting sales records, and it is introducing several new products every year to critical acclaim (see Motor Trend Car and Truck of the Year). Individual opinions aside, Honda's products continue to be successful and Honda is seeing record profits. How is that "in trouble?" The new Civic does push the edge a bit on interior styling, which makes some people uncomfortable. That's what change does to some people. I think it's risky and cool. It takes some driving to get used to it, but it works great.

      Somebody said that Honda is using Union labor in the US?? I don't think that's true.

      Honda shouldn't get a free ride because of past successes, but I don't see the doom and gloom with record sales, new products in whole new segments, and more awards than you can shake a stick at. If that's trouble, I'd like some trouble in my life too please.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The real question is who the he11 is James Treece and why the he11 do we care about his opinion. Honda in trouble? Look at GM, Ford...etc first before Honda.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If the American market think Honda don't take enough risks, then they should look at the new European Civic. A big departure but, judging by how many I've seen on the roads in the short time since it's launch vs. previous models, a success.

      The interior seems to be a real divided issue. People either love it or hate it. I call that taking a risk, too.

      I'm not sure exactly where this story is going. In terms of exterior styling, sure, the US Civic is quite conservative. But not unpleasant.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Honda's prowess used to be to prduce a sporting and much moe technically advanced vehicle than it's competitors both Japanese and others.
      Take the Acura TL. It's now underpowered agaisnt the family/fleet/top seller Toyota Camry and behind the, soon to be replaced Infinity G35.
      The Acura RL is "nice" but slow and/or not as oppulent as a Lexus V8 or Infinity V8 or Cadillac V8.
      Sure Honda makes good cars, but they are now not the most sporty, not the most powerful, not the most luxuriant. They need an identity. And most of all more performance. Part of the problem was in a statement a feew years ago, when the latest TL was alunched. Honda said FWD wasn't good for cars with more than 265 HP. Now as I said a shopping version of the Camry has more HP.
      So Honda either solve your engineering issues re FWD or go $WD across the range or go RWD and do it quickly.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This guy is just plain full of it.

      SH-AWD = risk
      Turbo RDX = risk

      Just what do you think the R&D costs of these things are? Free? Not to mention unconventional products that are either out, or in the pipeline.

      Ridgeline = risk.
      Muscle hybrid = risk
      Latest Civic Type R = risk

      Get a clue, man.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I always like Hondas, and I have great respect for Honda.

      There new Civic leaves me cold however. The steeply raked windshield and huge dash is form over function (hard to clean, hard to see out of, creates large AC load).

      Totally out of character. Honda generally means a functional, non-flashy car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hondas have been on Car & Drivers 10-best list for 20 of the last 24 years.

      I'm on my second Honda product, an Acura RL. I like Honda because of its engineering excellence. It dares do things differently if that's how its engineers think things should be done.

      The only mistakes Honda has made, in my view, are putting an el cheapo strut front suspension in the Civic that cost it the very influential California-based tuner market and throwing away the Legend nameplate.
      • 8 Years Ago

      I don't think Honda is "in trouble". Honda Motor Co. was the only manufacturer that saw its U.S. vehicle sales climb in the first 12 days of February, up 4 percent from the same time a year ago, according to the Power Information Network, a division of J.D. Power and Associates.

      Honda is benefiting from positive reviews of its revamped Civic as well as growing sales of its Ridgeline pickup.

      Here is a link to the information about sales going up:
      http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/business/financial_markets/13927443.htm

      I own a Ridgeline and I am blown away by the quality, the smooth ride, the excellent handling in snow and rain and the versatility of the vehicle. I never enjoyed driving but I use my Ridgeline to commute to work and I love it.
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