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Next Acura RDX Blowing into Chicago

New midsize crossover gets tech upgrades.

by on Jan.21, 2015

The 2015 Acura RDX gets a makeover for 2016 that will make its debut at the Chicago Auto Show next month.

Acura plans to blow into the Windy City next month with a redesigned version of its compact RDX sport-utility vehicle.

The RDX is one of the Japanese luxury brand’s most important products. Acura has long struggled to gain traction in the passenger car market, but it has routinely been one of the leaders in the upscale crossover segment with the RDX and larger MDX.

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The luxury arm of Honda isn’t offering many details, but referring to the strong fuel economy numbers for its V-6 version, an Acura release suggests, “the 2016 RDX takes the position a step further, adding important improvements to performance, dynamics, comfort and NVH,” or noise, vibration and harshness. (more…)

Honda Proclaims 2015 is “The Year of Honda”

FCV finally gets production date after Takata delay.

by on Jan.13, 2015

After a being delayed due to the Takata airbag problem, FCV production will start next year. Photo credit: Len Katz

Honda’s much ballyhooed fuel cell vehicle, the aptly named FCV, made its North American debut today at the Detroit Auto Show. The car is slated for production sometime next year and will hit showrooms in late ’16 or early ’17.

However, the Japanese automaker seems more focused on a bigger picture here in the Motor City. It’s calling 2015 “The Year of Honda.” While it seems awfully presumptuous on the surface, the company has reason to be excited: it’s long-awaited Honda Jet is finally getting off the ground, the FCV overcame some hurdles – including being impacted by the Takata seat belt fiasco – to finally find city streets and Honda is returning to Formula One racing.

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“No other automaker in the world has the depth of R&D know-how and experience to create such a diverse array of advanced technology products, let alone bring them to market,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (more…)

Honda Walloped with $70 Million NHTSA Fine

Automaker agrees to penalty, vows changes in reporting.

by on Jan.08, 2015

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Honda's $70 million fine is basically a sign of things to come: tougher enforcement and harsher penalties.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration slapped Honda was slapped with $70 million in fines for failing to report problems with its vehicles. It is the highest fine ever, supplanting the $35 million agreed to by General Motors earlier this year.

The agency levied two $35 million fines against the automaker because it violated federal legal requirements regarding information NHTSA about potential safety problems in vehicles. The first was for failing to submit early warning reports detailing 1,729 injuries and death and injury claims to the NHTSA for 11 years between 2003 and 2014.

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The second was for Honda’s failure to report certain warranty claims and other claims under so-called customer satisfaction campaigns during the same period. As part of the consent order the maker agreed to, it will also ensure the problems of underreporting problems doesn’t occur again. (more…)

Airbag Safety Problems Delay Honda Hydrogen Vehicle Launch

But near-production concept set to debut at Detroit Auto Show.

by on Dec.18, 2014

The latest version of the Honda FCV Concept will make its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Honda’s new fuel-cell vehicle has fallen victim to the maker’s airbag safety problems. With key engineering talent diverted to deal with the exploding Takata airbag issue, Honda won’t launch the production version of the new FCV model until early in 2016, senior company officials revealed.

But a near-production concept version of the new fuel-cell vehicle will still make its debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

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It will show “the styling evolution” that has taken place since Honda first showed off its FCV Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in late 2012, said John Mendel, Honda’s top U.S. executive.

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Reborn Acura NSX Set for Detroit Debut

Redefining the supercar – again.

by on Dec.17, 2014

Expect a six-figure price tag for 2016 NSX.

When it made its debut in 1990, the original Acura NSX changed the way supercars were supposed to look and feel. And now, with an all-new version of the Japanese rocket set to make its formal debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month, Acura hopes to pull off the same magic.

Set to reach showrooms late next year, likely as a 2016 model, the reborn Acura NSX aims to show that hybrid power isn’t just about boosting mileage. The sports car’s unusual drivetrain will pair three electric motors with a turbocharged six-cylinder internal combustion engine to deliver the sort of performance typically associated with exotic European brands, promised a senior company official.

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“The performance is spectacular…an other-worldly experience,” suggested John Mendel, the top U.S. executive for Acura’s parent Honda Motor Co. “It not only puts a smile on your face but helps you pucker in the right place.”

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Honda Trims List of Vehicles Targeted by Nationwide Airbag Recall

About 5.4 million vehicles sold between 2001 – 2011 now covered.

by on Dec.08, 2014

The 2002 Honda Civic EX is one of the models covered by the expanded Takata airbag recall.

Honda will voluntarily recall about 5.4 million vehicles nationwide to fix potentially defective Takata airbags – about 10% fewer cars and crossovers than the maker had originally signaled when it announced the safety campaign last week.

More than 2.8 million of those vehicles were already covered by a recall Honda announced last June, and the maker says many of them have already had their airbags replaced. They will not need additional repairs.

Honda is the single largest customer for airbags produced by embattled supplier Takata. The Japanese parts manufacturer last week told members of a Senate committee it would not expand an earlier, regional recall for faulty airbags. But Honda and several other automakers have decided to expand the safety campaign on their own.

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Nissan Rapidly Boosting US Production

Launch of new Murano bringing local production to 85%.

by on Dec.05, 2014

Jose Munoz, the CEO of Nissan North America, with the third-generation, 2015 Murano.

For its part, Nissan operates two major assembly plants in the U.S. The biggest is in Smyrna, Tennessee, a plant capable of producing up to 650,000 vehicles annually, and employing 8,000 hourly workers. The mile long factory produces the midsize Altima and the Leaf battery-electric vehicle, among other models.

About 400 miles to the southwest, Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi employs another 6,000 blue-collar workers. While production is lower than at Smyrna, the Canton factory is one of the most flexible in the American market, capable of production eight different models, including both car-like unibody vehicles, such as the Murano, and frame-based trucks.

As the first of Nissan’s new third-generation Murano crossovers roll into showrooms this month, buyers will find a lighter, more stylish and more fuel-efficient vehicle. But what only a few are likely to notice is that the new model also will be made in the U.S.

Nissan’s big assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi has become the new, global production base for the 2015 Murano – which until now had rolled off a Nissan line in Kyushu, Japan.

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“We want to localize more of everything we do,” noted Pierre Loing, the head of product planning for Nissan North America.

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Honda Expanding Recall, Even as Takata Deems Move Unnecessary

Second vendor stepping in to help supply replacement parts.

by on Dec.03, 2014

Takata has a falling out with Honda over calls for an expanded recall of faulty airbags.

Even as its one of its key safety suppliers rejects a call for a nationwide recall of potentially defective airbags, Honda North America said it will expand the existing service action that originally focused on only select portions of the U.S.

The split between Honda and embattled Japanese partsmaker Takata Corp. came during a heated hearing before a Congressional subcommittee probing a problem now linked to at least five deaths in the U.S. alone.

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In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered the recall of 7.8 million older vehicles operating in Southern Florida and other high-humidity areas because of a propensity to misfire during collisions, potentially sending deadly shrapnel into the passenger compartment. NHTSA has since said the evidence calls for a broader recall of driver-side Takata airbags, though it is still studying potential problems with bags used on the passenger side of vehicles.

While a top Takata official told Congressmen the evidence “does not support” a broader recall,” its largest customer, Honda, said it would accept NHTSA’s demand for a nationwide recall.

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NHTSA Debates How Far to Expand Takata Airbag Recall

Agency still wants nationwide recall for faulty driver’s side bags, but hedging on passenger-side airbags.

by on Dec.02, 2014

A Takata airbag after a crash.

(This story has been updated.)

Already under fire for its handling of several recent major safety issues, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to debate how far to expand the recall of vehicles equipped with potentially faulty airbags produced by Japanese supplier Takata Corp.

With NHTSA officials set to testify before Congress on Wednesday, the agency confirmed it is still seeking a nationwide recall of driver-side airbags, but that it is not yet calling for a similar action for passenger-side airbags. The safety agency was sharply criticized following its initial decision in October to order a recall of 7.8 million vehicles in areas with high humidity where the risk of airbag failures was considered most serious.

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The big question is whether Takata will accept NHTSA’s midnight deadline and agree to go along with the expanded driver’s side airbag recall before tomorrow’s Capitol Hill hearing.

Takata Chairman Shigehisa Takada was expected to announce a decision on Tuesday but failed to reveal the company’s position.

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Honda Admits Under-reporting Crash Deaths, Injuries

“We acknowledge the problem,” says senior executive.

by on Nov.25, 2014

Honda's safety problems mount.

The recall scandal continues to rock the auto industry with new and damaging revelations.

The latest company to have its reputation seriously smeared is Japanese automaker Honda, which admits it failed to file more than 1,700 accident reports with federal safety regulators as required by law.

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“At Honda, we acknowledge this problem as our management responsibility,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America.

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