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Honda Reveals Plans for New HR-V Compact SUV

Will share platform with 2015 Honda Fit subcompact.

by on Apr.18, 2014

Honda confirmed today that it will build its new HR-V crossover alongside the 2015 Honda Fit at its plant in Celaya, Mexico.

Honda is about to become the newest entrant into the rapidly growing compact crossover segment.

The maker confirmed the new model will be called the Honda HR-V during a news conference at the 2014 NY Auto Show. The crossover will share the same platform as the all-new 2015 Honda Fit and will be assembled at the company’s new assembly plant in Celaya, Mexico, alongside the small car.

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“Both Fit and HR-V demonstrate how great things can come in small packages, and no one does this better than Honda,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda automobile division for American Honda. “Together these models also represent Honda’s step-by-step expansion of our production in the region, which has been key to our success in America for more than 30 years.” (more…)

New Car Buyers Name Honda Best Overall Brand Again

Survey tabs Ford as Best Truck, Mercedes as Best Luxury brands.

by on Apr.09, 2014

On the strength of vehicles like the Accord, above, Honda captured the Best Overall Brand award in Kelley Blue Book's 2014 Brand Image Award survey.

For the second consecutive year, new car buyers voted Honda “Best Overall Brand” in Kelley Blue Book’s annual Brand Image Award study. The company also took the “Most Trusted Brand” honor for the third straight year.

Kelley Blue Book, also known as KBB, gives out awards in 13 categories. Among luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz was named the Best Overall Brand. Ford grabbed the Best Overall Brand award for trucks.

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“A brand is really built over the long haul through consumers’ experiences with its products, and Honda is committed to delivering class-leading vehicles that provide lasting enjoyment and value to our customers,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda automobile division for American Honda, in a statement. “Honda simply embraces the challenge of being a brand that people can trust.” (more…)

New Acura TLX to Debut at NY Auto Show

Deja vu all over again?

by on Mar.20, 2014

The "prototype" 2015 Acura TLX during its debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Look for minor changes in the production model.

Don’t be surprised if you get a sense of déjà vu all over again – as Yogi Berra liked to say – when you get to the New York Auto Show next month.

Yes, you’ve seen that Acura TLX before.  Well, almost but not quite.  Honda’s upscale marque gave us a look at a “prototype” during the Detroit Auto Show a couple months back.  That’s a common practice for Honda which has been very effective at double-dipping into the 24-hour news cycle.

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Expect to see a few minor tweaks as we go from prototype to production – such as the row of LED lights fused to the base of each sideview mirror — but the basic shape is going to be largely the same as what was revealed in the Motor City.  “The TLX will serve as the backbone of the Acura sedan line-up,” said Mike Accavitti, Acura’s new brand boss, so the maker is intent on getting it right with what will soon become the middle model in its three sedan line-up.

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10 Millionth American-Made Honda Accord Rolls Out

Maker now producing 1.3 mil vehicles North America annually.

by on Mar.20, 2014

The first American-made Honda Accord rolls off the assembly line on November 1, 1982.

There have always been skeptics.  They thought man couldn’t fly, or go to the moon.  They expected Columbus to fall off the edge of the Earth. And they didn’t expect Honda to do much better when it opened an assembly plant in the middle of Ohio nearly 32 years ago.

But that plant in the one-time farming community of Marysville has – like Columbus, Neil Armstrong and the Wright Brothers – proved the skeptics wrong. And sometime today the 10 millionth American-made Honda Accord will roll off the assembly line.

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It’s a significant milestone, but not the only one the Japanese maker has set lately.  It recently produced its 20 millionth vehicle in North America where it now operates an expansive array of production facilities, including its newest plant in Mexico which recently began producing the latest-generation of the little Honda Fit.  Honda also became a net exporter in 2013 and, going forward, expects to be shipping more vehicles out of its North American plants than it imports to the market.

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Despite Pressure from Public, Lawmakers, Are Unsafe Cars Still Sidestepping Recall Process?

GM ignition switch scandal could lead to crackdown.

by on Mar.17, 2014

A Jeep Grand Cherokee fire. The maker long fought a recall - but critics aren't happy with the final settlement.

Things were supposed to change a decade ago.  After an estimated 270 people were killed in rollover accidents involving Ford Explorer SUVs and Firestone tires, Congress passed the so-called TREAD Act.  Short for the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, it was intended to create a new process by which manufacturers had to reveal known safety-related issues – while encouraging motorists to report their own complaints.

But while federal safety regulators and automotive industry officials alike insist the new process is working, there are plenty of skeptics – all the more in the wake of the recent revelations that General Motors may have known for more than a decade that many of its compact cars were equipped with faulty ignition switches that could inadvertently shut the vehicles off and disable their airbag systems – a problem that last month led to the recall of 1.6 million vehicles and which has been linked to at least 12 deaths.

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What some are dubbing “Switch-gate” has already spawned a series of investigations – including hearings on both sides of Capitol Hill, a preliminary Justice Dept. criminal probe, a query by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and a new internal investigation at GM itself ordered by the maker’s new CEO Mary Barra.

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Fire Risk Forces Recall of 900k Honda Odyssey Minivans

Latest in series of Odyssey recalls.

by on Mar.17, 2014

A 2008 version of the Odyssey minivan.

While often ranked among the best of the market’s minivans, the Honda Odyssey minivan has faced a number of recalls for potentially serious safety-related issues in recent years, and it is being targeted by yet another, the Japanese maker announcing it will need to service nearly 900,000 of the vehicles due to a potential leak that puts the Odyssey at risk for fire.

While the maker says it knows of no fires or injuries so far, “Prolonged exposure to acidic chemicals and a high temperature environment may cause the cover of the fuel pump strainer to deteriorate prematurely in a manner that can result in cracks in the material.”

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If that happens, Honda said in a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is an “increasing…risk of fire.”  It can also lead to the smell of fuel in the vehicles.

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Toyota Workers Get First Pay Increase Since 2008

Nissan, Honda follow suit with smaller raises.

by on Mar.13, 2014

Toyota workers in Japan received raises for the first time since 2008. Could similar increases be coming for its U.S. employees?

For the first time since 2008, Toyota, Japan’s largest automaker, has agreed to increase in base pay for its 50,000 Japanese factory workers. The typical Toyota Motor Workers’ Union member will earn $26 more in base pay per month, Senior Managing Officer Naoki Miyazaki told reporters at a press conference in Tokyo.

The 0.8% pay increase is less than $40 per month raise sought by the union, which had been encouraged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call for a pay increase. The raise is the largest since 1993, according to Reuters.

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However, when the boost in longevity pay and compensation workers receive for learning new skills is calculated, the typical Toyota worker will get a 2.9% pay increase or the equivalent of about $73 per month, Toyota officials noted. (more…)

Honda, Acura Putting Foot on the Gas with New Plans

New structure provides focus for each brand.

by on Mar.10, 2014

Newly named Acura General Manager Mike Accavitti also retains his title as senior vice president of Honda North America. He will oversee the sales and marketing activities for Acura in North America.

The murky plans to split up Honda and Acura to strengthen the division’s luxury brand in North America became clear with the announcement today of Honda North America’s plan to form a Honda Division and an Acura Division.

The plan calls for a realignment of the company’s sales and marketing organization into the divisions instead of being aligned by function as it had previously. The move follows in the steps of the recent establishment of the Acura Business Planning Office, which is designed to give Acura a more independent path from Honda.

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“The goal is to accelerate the already strong sales growth of both the Honda and Acura brands through a more cohesive strategy that we think will bring even greater focus to the unique needs of our Honda and Acura customers,” said John Mendel, executive vice president, Auto Sales, during a conference call today. (more…)

Honda Civic Type R Concept a “Racing Car for the Road”

Production model will get new Earth Dreams Turbo engine.

by on Mar.04, 2014

The Honda Civic Type R Concept uses the maker's new Earth Dreams turbo I-4 engine.

Automakers often like to talk about how they’ve taken racing technology from the track to the street, but the Honda Civic Type R Concept debuting in Geneva this week is, as much as anything, meant to celebrate the Japanese automaker’s upcoming rebirth on the Formula One circuit.

The show car offers a hint of the “styling direction” Honda plans to take next year when it not only returns to F1 but launches the much-anticipated Civic Type R, Chief Stylist Masaru Hasegawa proclaiming, “Type R represents Honda’s racing spirit. It is built with a passion for motorsport.”

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Prototypes of the Type R have been busily running the grueling Nurburgring in Germany, and the exterior styling of the show car reflects what  Honda has been learning about how to reduce drag, improve down-force and improve engine and brake cooling.

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Honda Set to Kill Off Insight Hybrid

Maker shifting focus to new generation of hybrids.

by on Feb.26, 2014

Honda CEO Takeo Fukui (l) was one of those celebrating the introduction of the latest Insight hybrid.

It appears Honda finally is ready to end production of its dedicated Insight hybrid-electric vehicle as the Japanese automaker moves to address some long-festering problems.

News reports from Japan indicate Honda executives have finally pulled the plug on the latest version of the Insight, the successor to Honda’s first hybrid model originally introduced in 1999.

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The likely demise of the Insight has been the subject of rumors for months and appears to reflect Honda’s inability to generate much consumer interest in the model which was once seen as the maker’s answer to the Toyota Prius.  Toyota’s hybrid was the best -selling vehicle in California last year and dominated sales charts in Japan, as well, while the Insight was never in the hunt.

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