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European Honda Civic Hatch and Type R Could be US-Bound

Hot hatch buyers could benefit from strong dollar, weak European sales.

by on Mar.20, 2015

Honda introduced the Civic Type R in Geneva.

Honda generated plenty of buzz when it unveiled the new Civic Type R in Geneva earlier this month – though it was more like a chorus of groans here in the U.S. when the maker said it had no plans to bring the hot hatch to the States.

Well, that might be about to change. According to a report out of Japan, Honda apparently is rethinking its decision. It appears quite likely American buyers will soon have the opportunity to buy the standard-issue hatchback which would be imported from a plant in England. And the Civic Type R could also be U.S.-bound.

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“We’ve made no announcements,” stressed Steve Kinkade, a Detroit-based Honda spokesman. But he also would not discuss the Japanese maker’s plans for its news conference at the upcoming New York Auto Show.

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Honda Expands Takata Airbag Recall Campaign

Maker adds 100,000 vehicles to list.

by on Mar.20, 2015

Honda added nearly 89,000 2008 Pilot SUVs to its recall of vehicles with Takata's faulty airbags.

Honda continues getting ahead of the Takata airbag recall as it announced recently it’s expanding its national safety campaign by more than 100,000 vehicles. The move comes shortly after the Japanese maker launched an advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness among owners of these vehicles.

The automaker used the faulty Takata airbags in millions of its vehicles during the course of a decade. The airbags in question, which can explode with such force during operation they eject shrapnel into the cabin, have caused the recall of approximately 20 million vehicles globally. With these additional vehicles added, Honda is recalling about 5.5 million vehicles in the U.S.

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Honda is adding 88,549 Pilot vehicles from the 2008 model year, 10,868 specific 2004 Civic vehicles and 5,454 specific 2001 Accord vehicles. While certain 2001 Accord and 2004 Civic vehicles were previously included the initial action, no 2008 Pilot models were included before this addition. (more…)

Honda Launches National Ad Campaign Urging Drivers to Get Airbags Replaced

Program aims to increase repair rate for bags linked to five deaths.

by on Mar.12, 2015

A Takata airbag after a crash.

Honda is launching a major national advertising effort to convince buyers to repair millions of vehicles equipped with potentially deadly airbags produced by beleaguered Japanese supplier Takata.

So far, at least five deaths – all in Honda vehicles – have been linked to the problem in which the airbags may inflate too aggressively during a crash, sending shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment.

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The campaign is meant to “to save lives and prevent injuries,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of the automobile division of American Honda Motor Co.

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Steering, Other Problems Lead to New Toyota Recalls

Bigger issue could leave Camry sedan with “complete loss” of power steering.

by on Mar.12, 2015

The Toyota Camry got a major update for 2015.

Toyota has ordered up several new recalls for a variety of issues, the most serious potentially leading to a “complete loss” of power steering in several of its most popular models, including the recently redesigned Camry sedan.

Though it would still allow a driver to muscle through turns, the maker warned, the problem “increases the risk of a crash.”

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The second problem could cause some of Toyota’s RAV4 EV battery cars to unexpectedly shift into neutral making it impossible to move out of the way were the issue to occur while on a freeway or in a traffic jam.

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Best Family Cars for 2015

GM tops the chart, but Honda sets a record.

by on Mar.11, 2015

The Honda Odyssey has been the top pick for family minivan every year since the awards began.

If your idea of a “family car” is an old wagon with a passel of kids tucked in the back, or perhaps a grimy minivan overflowing with soccer gear, you may be in for a surprise when you see the mix of models that topped the charts in the U.S. News Best Cars for Families annual awards.

The magazine took a close look at 259 different vehicles in 19 different categories looking to “highlight vehicles that make family life easier,” explains Jamie Page Deaton, who oversees new car rankings. “These are sedans, SUVs and minivans that have good space and good safety,” but also offer lots of “family-friendly features.”

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Those include such niceties rear-seat video entertainment systems, WiFi hot spots, and back-up cameras, as well as safety and security systems like GM’s OnStar that can help parents keep track of teen drivers.

General Motors, in fact, led in more of those categories – four, in all — topping every any other manufacturer. GM has “changed quite a bit,” said Page Deaton, adding that recent models have delivered better features, quality and performance.”

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Honda Civic Type R Makes its Debut

Lap record holder for Nurburgring has no plans to come to US market.

by on Mar.04, 2015

Honda introduced the Civic Type R in Geneva.

Getting over to Switzerland for the annual Geneva Motor Show can be a wonderful experience checking out all the latest sheet metal. But there’s a downside when you discover a hot new model that won’t be coming back home.

Such is the case with the new Honda Civic Type R, a pint-sized performance car likely to set hearts to flutter for many U.S. buyers.

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How fast is it? Honda is claiming that a prototype version lapped grueling North loop of the Nurburgring in just 7:50.63, about four seconds faster than the previous record for a front-drive car set last year on the Nordschleife by a Renault Megane RS. If you focus on launch times, it reportedly can launch to 100 kmh, or 62.5 mph, in 5.7 seconds.

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With HR-V, New Ridgeline, Honda Hopes to Close the Truck Gap

by on Mar.02, 2015

Honda's new HR-V is just one of several new truck introductions aimed at bolstering Honda's truck sales.

With fuel prices at levels U.S. consumers haven’t seen in years, light truck sales are booming. That’s good news for most manufacturers since pickups, SUVs and minivans tend to deliver some of the industry’s biggest profit margins.

But the market shift has been frustrating for the folks at Honda, who’ve watched their share of the truck segment slide since reaching a peak during the middle of the previous decade. That’s something the Japanese maker hopes to begin rectifying in the months ahead as Honda rolls out an assortment of new and updated light trucks, such as the all-new HR-V utility vehicle and the completely redesigned Ridgeline pickup.

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“With gas prices likely to remain low, (the truck) segment is likely to continue to grow for some time,” said Jeff Conrad, general manager of the Honda brand, during a media drive of the new HR-V last week. “The challenge, he acknowledged, will be to “get our fair share.” (more…)

Honda CEO Ousted Amidst Airbag Woes

New chief executive Hachigo facing serious challenges.

by on Feb.23, 2015

Honda CEO Takanobu Ito shakes hands withe successor, Takahiro Hachigo in Tokyo on Monday.

Honda’s ongoing airbag problem has claimed another victim. In this case, it’s President and CEO Takanobu Ito, who will step aside in April, at the end of the automaker’s fiscal year.

Honda has been forced to recall millions of vehicles around the world due to problems with faulty airbags supplied by close ally, the Japanese partsmaker Takata. But Honda has run into a number of other issues and earlier this month scaled back its earnings forecast for the rest of the year.

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Ito will be replaced by Takahiro Hachigo, currently Honda’s managing officer. During a 33-year career, Hachigo helped guide the maker’s business ventures in China, Europe and the U.S. Among other things, he led the development of the popular Honda Odyssey minivan built in one of the maker’s many American assembly plants.

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Honda Curbs Production in Face of Parts Shortages

Nissan, Toyota impacted less by dockworkers strike.

by on Feb.17, 2015

In Oregon, Local 12 Southport boat pickets: Local 12 members Leonard Nelson, John Huber, Bob Palmer & Steve Maine. Photo credit: ILWU.org

Due to a prolonged strike by dockworkers at ports on the West Coast, Honda is running short on parts it needs for plants in Ohio, Indiana and Canada. As a result, the Japanese maker is slowing down production rates at the plants in those places, the maker said.

“We are experiencing parts shortages at our auto operations in Ohio, Indiana and Canada that is impacting regular production,” Honda said in a statement.

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Operations have been curtailed at plants in Greensburg, Indiana; Allison, Ontario; and Marysville and East Liberty, Ohio. Since January, Honda has using a combination of air cargo and special truck shipments to obtain key parts. (more…)

Honda Follows Toyota’s Lead Cutting Global Sales Targets

Japanese maker plans to reduce complexity to improve quality.

by on Feb.16, 2015

Honda is taking a hard look at its quality issues, due in part to the Fit begin recalled five times.

Honda, which has been reeling due to a series of recalls in the U.S., scrapped its global sales target of 6 million units by the end of 2017 as it follows the example of one of its principal Japanese rivals, Toyota, which is also scaling back sales targets.

Takanobu Ito, Honda’s chief executive, told reporters during a test drive in northern Japan that Honda will reduce the number of variations of its vehicles it manufactures. This will reduce the workload of its over-taxed engineering staff and protect the company’s reputation for quality, which has been undermined by a series of safety-related recalls of airbags made by Takata Corp., which was once one of its most trusted suppliers.

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“We want to be more efficient,” Ito said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Even though we’re narrowing these down that doesn’t mean our business would shrink.” (more…)