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Toyota, Nissan and Honda Team up to Create “Hydrogen Society”

Makers pool funds to set up hydrogen fueling stations.

by on Jul.01, 2015

One of the first Japanese hydrogen stations.

In an unusual move, Japan’s three largest automakers have agreed to work tougher to help create what they’re calling a “hydrogen society.”

Toyota Motor Corp. has just launched its new Mirai fuel-cell vehicle, with Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. working up similar products. While proponents point out that these vehicles produce no harmful emissions, skeptics note that there are few places for potential buyers to fill their tanks with the lightweight fuel, so the three companies are promising to invest as much as 6 billion yen, or $50 million, to build and support a network of hydrogen filling stations in Japan.

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They have also been supporting plans to create a similar infrastructure in the United States where the only ready supply of hydrogen currently is located in Southern California.


Honda Close to Giving Go to “Baby NSX”

Smaller hybrid sports car would carry Honda v Acura badge.

by on Jun.22, 2015

The NSX is reborn as hybrid supercar, and now its expected a "Baby NSX" will be the replacement for the Honda S2000.

Even before the reborn Acura NSX rolls into showrooms, Honda Motor Co. is working up a downsized version of the hybrid sports car, this one planned for the flagship Honda brand.

The so-called “Baby NSX” would serve as a replacement for the old Honda S2000, according to several insiders, and would take aim against such competitors as the Porsche Cayman and the Alfa Romeo 4C.

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Like the NSX, the new model is expected to use a drivetrain blending an internal combustion engine and three electric motors, and a mix of aluminum and carbon fiber would help hold the weight down. With development just getting underway, the new model isn’t expected to reach showrooms for at least three years. (more…)

Japanese Automakers Slide, Koreans Surge in New J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Japanese brands, as a group, post worst performance in 29 years.

by on Jun.17, 2015

Hyundai has scored major gains in quality with products like the 2015 Tucson, according to Power.

This story contains updated information.

If the latest J.D. Power survey is any indication, you might need to re-think just about everything you thought you knew about automotive quality.

The latest Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, finds that Japanese automakers, on the whole, have suffered a significant slide in the quality charts, with only three brands in the Top 10 this year. But the real shocker might be the surge in Korean quality. Kia, a brand long known for cheap, mediocre products, was second, behind top-ranked Porsche, with Hyundai ranked fourth. Jaguar, also struggling to reverse a reputation for poor quality, was third.

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For the Korean brands, which are caught up in a ferocious battle for market, the survey results represent a measure of vindication.  “We are extremely proud of the results,” said Mike Ofiara, a spokesman for Kia, which finished second in the overall ranking. “We’ve come a very long way. It’s representative of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”


Honda Poised to Set New US Sales Record in 2015

SUV, crossover sales combining with stable car sales to net new benchmark.

by on Jun.16, 2015

Honda's John Mendel said he expects the automaker's sales to set a new record in the U.S. this year.

After a rough patch, that included recalls of millions of vehicles, America Honda is on track to set a new sales record in the U.S. as it launches five new or refreshed vehicles into the market.

John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president, said during a visit to Detroit that the automaker posted solid sales in May and so far sales in June have also been very strong. Honda now expects to set a record this year, he said.

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“It’s a great time for Honda and Acura,” Mendel said. Sales of the new Honda HR-V got off to a very strong start in May, and more than one third of buyers were new to the Honda brand. Honda is following up the launch of the HR-V with the introduction of the new version of the Honda Pilot and as well as a re-styled Honda Civic sedan and coupe and the mid-cycle refresh of the Honda Accord later this year, Mendel said. (more…)

Honda Gives up on CNG in US

Maker also puts Accord plug-in hybrid on hiatus.

by on Jun.15, 2015

The 2015 Honda Civic CNG will be the last iteration of CNG vehicles sold in the U.S. by America Honda.

American Honda is giving up on building compressed natural gas vehicles for the U.S. market.

John Mendel, executive vice president, told a press conference in Detroit that Honda has tried to interest American consumers in CNG vehicles since 1998 and the idea of vehicles fueled by natural gas has never caught on despite the decline in the price of natural gas.

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Honda is also ending production of the Accord hybrid for one year but will bring it back for the 2017 model year with improvements in fuel efficiency, Mendel said. (more…)

Honda Shifting from Cars to Trucks

Maker searching for more “white space” opportunities.

by on May.21, 2015

Honda's 2016 Pilot begins rolling off the company's assembly line in Lincoln, Alabama, today.

Things will be getting busy at the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama plant today – make that busier – as the first of the maker’s new 2016 Pilot SUVs begins rolling down the line.

It’s the third-generation version of the three-row ute that has become not just one of the most popular vehicles in its segment but a symbol of some major changes at the Japanese brand. Long focused on sedans and coupes like the Accord and Civic, Honda is steadily shifting emphasis from passenger cars to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles.

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Already, truck models make up 49% of total U.S. production, noted John Mendel, Honda’s top U.S. executive, “and we could flex that even further,” he said during a teleconference with reporters marking the launch of Pilot production. “That depends on the car market and how much the truck market grows.” (more…)

Lack of Fuel Limits Hyundai Hydrogen Car Sales

Sales could grow as refueling network expands across California.

by on May.20, 2015

The Hyundai fuel cell stack shown in front of the Tucson. The entire package fits under the hood where a gas engine would normally go.

A lack of a hydrogen fueling network is taking its toll on Hyundai’s fuel cell-powered Tucson model, according to the maker’s top U.S. executive.

That has forced the maker to turn away potential buyers who simply don’t live close enough to the handful of hydrogen pumps currently open to the public in Southern California. But Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America said the situation should improve over the next few years as a state-funded effort opens more hydrogen fueling stations.

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Hyundai has sold “under 100” of the Tucson FCV models since the fuel-cell vehicle was introduced last summer, said Zuchowski, during a chat with reporters following a drive of two of the maker’s other alternative-power vehicles, the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models.


First Drive: 2016 Honda Pilot

A minivan by any other name…

by on May.20, 2015

The 2016 Honda Pilot can push up above $40,000 in high-trim models.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare famously asked. He was, of course, referring to a rose. But we might ask the same about the word, minivan. Once one of the most popular body styles on U.S. roads, sales have slumped sharply in recent years as style-conscious buyers have migrated to SUVs and crossovers.

Honda, however, has come up with an interesting solution. Give buyers a minivan and just call it something else. Officially, the 2016 Honda Pilot is a utility vehicle. But for all intents and purposes, it’s a minivan minus the sliding doors.

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First introduced in 2003 and redesigned six years later, the third-generation Honda Pilot is more than just an update. It adopts a much more stylish exterior, an even more lavish interior, and plenty of new safety and creature comfort technologies. What stays the same is Pilot’s focus on providing the sort of comfort, functionality and flexibility that, in years past, would have drawn buyers to conventional minivans, including Honda’s own Odyssey model.


Another 5 Mil Vehicles Added to Takata Airbag Recall

Honda continues to be hurt by relationship with airbag maker.

by on May.15, 2015

Takata's Hiroshi Shimizu testified before a congressional subcommittee, but the company maintains it doesn't need to expand its recall.

Days after Toyota and Nissan announced the recall of 6.5 million vehicles due to potentially faulty Takata airbags, Honda and Daihatsu have launched new service actions of their own covering yet another 5 million vehicles sold worldwide.

That will bring to about 35 million the total number of vehicles that have been recalled as a result of a problem that can cause airbags to inflate over-aggressively in a crash, sending shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment. The problem has so far been linked to a half-dozen deaths, most of them in the United States.

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As part of the latest announcements, Honda will inspect and, if necessary, replace airbags in 4.89 million vehicles sold around the world. Honda, which has a financial relationship with Takata as part of its keiretsu, or closely linked supplier network, has had the largest number of vehicles impacted by the airbag problem. (more…)

Toyota, Nissan Recall Another 6.5 Mil Vehicles for Faulty Airbags

Total Takata recalls now approaching 30 mil worldwide.

by on May.13, 2015

A Takata airbag after a crash.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s two largest automakers, have announced another major recall to fix potentially faulty Takata airbags, a move affecting a total of 6.5 million vehicles, about 1 million of them sold in the U.S.

All told, nearly 30 million vehicles have been recalled as a result of the problem, which can cause airbags to inflate over-aggressively in a crash, sending shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment. The problem has so far been linked to a half-dozen deaths, most of them in the United States.

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The latest actions may not spell the end of the Takata problem, however, as some safety advocates are calling for the recall of as many as 30 million vehicles equipped with suspect Takata airbags in the U.S. alone. (more…)