Were the 90s a "decade of bad decisions" for Honda?

Here's a short, interesting opinion piece by Matt Timion, owner and operator of GasSavers.org. He first acknowledges that since Honda's entry into the U.S. automotive market in 1971, the automaker has been "more concerned with fuel economy and emissions than any other manufacturer." As partial evidence, he points to Honda's continual offering of at least one super mileage vehicle starting with their CVCC technology moving on to the CRX HF, the Civic VX and the Insight.
Matt's argument gets interesting when he attributes an attitude shift at Honda towards bigger profits with company founder Soichiro Honda's death in 1991. He says that at the time "an observable change in Honda's business model and priorities surfaced."

I do think that there's some truth to what Matt's saying as the '90s brought Honda's foray into SUVs and minivans, however, I wouldn't call it "a decade of bad decisions" like Matt. In Popular Science's interview, Honda's CEO Takeo Fukui stresses that as a global company they need to cater to the desires of the consumer. He says, "Americans love big cars, and they will want them whenever possible. Honda will, of course, give them what they want, but our cars will always be the most fuel-efficient in their respective classes." The '90s for Honda were really about expanding their model line-up beyond the Civic, Accord and Prelude as well as moving the Acura brand past the Integra and Legend. This lead the company to abandon its capital-draining Formula 1 presence starting in 1993 and continuing through the 1999 season (only supplying engines through Mugen in the interim). And don't forget the NSX was Soichiro Honda's last great project.

Soichiro Honda was a brilliant man who believed in extracting the most he could possibly derive from any power plant, and this means efficiency as well as performance. The substance of this response is not to take anything away from Honda's spectacular track record in low emissions and high mileage, but simply to underline the fact that we should not confuse causes and effects as we struggle in finding widely accepted incentives for reducing emissions and developing alternative fuels for the future.

In any case, Matt, we think you're doing some great work with your website and wish you the best.

[Source: American Chronicle]

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