It’s been a tough year for Honda: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, production shortages. And bad reviews. The maker has taken a series of dings from the likes of Consumer Reports, no less, which panned its latest Civic model. In some ways, that’s worse than the sharp downturn in Honda earnings in recent months.
TheDetroitBureau.com spent the better part of a week with mid-level and senior executives, all the way up to President and CEO Takanobu Ito to get an inside look at the company’s turnaround plans – which include a rapid fix of the much-maligned new Honda Civic. But much of the effort revolves around a dramatic transformation of the Honda powertrain line-up. This is, after all, a company that likes to say it’s in the business of building engines, first and foremost.
The new line-up includes both advanced gasoline and alternative propulsion systems – one of the most intriguing being a gas-electric version of Honda’s innovative Super Handling-All-Wheel-Drive system, or SH-AWD, a 3-motor system that we had a chance to take for the proverbial spin on the Twin-Ring Motegi race track a few hours outside Tokyo.