Just what impact the safety scandal at Toyota will have on the rest of the automotive market is uncertain, but the Japanese maker’s arch-rival, Honda, is working to ensure it won’t be tainted, as well.
“Product quality is extremely important to us,” asserted Honda CEO Takanobu Ito, as the maker officially debuted its latest gasoline-electric hybrid model, the CR-Z, during a Tokyo news conference.
Initial sales reports hint that Honda may be picking up Toyota buyers, especially in the U.S. market, where the safety crisis has been widely covered by the media.
But, like other makers, Ito avoided any appearance of gloating over Toyota’s ongoing woes. If anything, he appeared to take a cautious position about growth and the potential it brings to start making mistakes.
Ito spoke just days after his Toyota counterpart, CEO Akio Toyoda, was grilled by an American Congressional Committee.
But it was only a few weeks earlier that Honda had to expand the recall of products including the 2001 and 2002 Accord sedan, Civic compact and Odyssey minivan because of faulty airbags. Since the first defect announcement, 15 months ago, the number of vehicles on the callback list has grown to 437,000.
The Japanese maker did make a point of emphasizing that the 2011 Honda CR-Z uses a different braking system from the 2010 Toyota Prius and, Honda promised, would not suffer the same problems — in which brakes can unexpectedly release when a Prius hits a bump or a slick patch of road,