Delayed Civic Begs the Question: Has Honda lost the plot? [w/poll]

Honda Civic: A History in Pictures – click above for a high-res image gallery

Honda Vice President John Mendel recently admitted to AutoWeek that the next-generation Civic will be delayed from the Fall of 2010 to sometime in 2011. Mendel said in the interview that the Civic was delayed because of tightening emissions standards and he also noted that changing market conditions were partly to blame. AW also notes that the Civic's design was changed along the way, as Honda's second biggest selling model was originally scheduled to be larger for 2011. Happens all the time, right? Well, not to Honda it doesn't.

Bill Visnic over at Edmunds Auto Observer has taken a deep-dive look at the broader implications of the Civic redesign, and came up with some very interesting points. For starters, Krebs speculates that the next Civic was delayed in part because it wasn't competitive compared to the new, vastly improved competition from companies like Hyundai, General Motors and Ford. While some analysts feel that the Honda redesign shows that the Japanese automaker is willing to swallow some humble pie and get things right, Krebs counters that going back to the drawing board shows that Honda has lost its touch with the car-buying public. Further support for her theory centers around the lackluster greeting for the Insight by both consumers and pundits, Acura's polarizing styling language and the love/hate Accord Crosstour and its embarassing social media launch efforts. Analyst John Wolkonowicz of Global Insight appears to agree with Krebs, saying that Honda is living off of its reputation from the 1980s and 1990s.

Where do we stand on the Honda Civic design pushback? We're thinking that as long as the Civic continues to sell in big numbers with relatively small incentives, Honda is smart to head back to the drawing board, especially as it is still selling strongly five years into its lifecycle. However, we've been worried that Honda has been losing its engineering-led focus for a while now, so we'll be looking to the next-gen Civic for some level of redemption.

Be sure to take our poll and check out our high-res gallery of Honda Civic history before heading over to the Auto Observer for some very interesting analysis.

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[Source: Auto Observer]

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