A key part of Honda’s product development program could be out of action indefinitely in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devasted Northeast Japan earlier this month.
With Japanese automakers still struggling to assess the damage done by the natural disaster – and subsequent nuclear crisis – Honda could be among the makers hardest hit. Even plans for its new Civic model could be impacted by the events of recent weeks.
Honda has been under fire in recent months because its product line has begun to look dated next to new vehicles from other Asian, European and American carmakers – notably including the new Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra models targeting the long-dominant Civic.
Howver, it now appears another casualty of the deadly quake — which has claimed the lives of as many as 26,000 — was Honda’s product development center.
The R&D facility, in Tochigi, suffered the only known fatality at any facility operated by a major automaker, one worker killed during the March 11 earthquake when a wall collapsed. Employees who will work on the restoration started returning this week. But repairing the quake damage at the center will take considerably more time, Honda officials have confirmed.