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Carmakers Face Tough Test as Market Flattens

Sales expected to fall just short of last year's record.

by on Oct.13, 2016

Honda's John Mendel says there is a chance that automakers will beat last year's record sales.

Manufacturers are eager to roll out new models this fall and even adding more capacity in an effort to gain an edge over rivals.

But they are also facing a highly competitive market where manufacturers are being tempted to raise incentives to protect market share, noted Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with IHS Automotive.

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“The market is going to get more competitive and we will see if (companies) fall back into their old practices,” she added. “The easy growth is gone.” (more…)

Acura Chief Accavitti Unexpectedly Exits

New Acura boss is veteran designer Jon Ikeda.

by on Jul.28, 2015

Mike Accavitti with a prototype Acura TLX at its preview during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

With sales growing well ahead of the industry overall, everything seemed to be going right for Acura boss Mike Accavitti. But the industry veteran has unexpectedly exited the Japanese luxury brand, parent Honda Motor Co. offering no explanation for his departure.

Accavitti will be succeeded by Jon Ikeda, who had served as head of Honda’s U.S. R&D operations and who was trained as a designer before joining Honda in 1989.

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“Jon Ikeda brings tremendous knowledge and talent to Acura,” John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, said in a statement. “From deep R&D experience with the brand, he has emerged as the ultimate advocate for Acura and has built a record of solid achievement and success.”

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Honda Drops Triple Surprise as it Debuts All-New Civic

Maker also confirms plans to bring European 5-door Civic Type R to US.

by on Apr.01, 2015

The new Honda Civic Concept debuting in NY.

There was widespread speculation Honda would serve up some surprises during its New York Auto Show news conference, but the Japanese maker handily outdid expectations.

Perhaps the biggest news – and the biggest surprise – was the announcement that Honda would launch an all-new version of its long-popular Civic model later this year, with its American design and engineering team taking the lead in the project. The new model also will be the first U.S. product line to offer a new turbocharged engine developed as part of Honda’s Earth Dreams powertrain program.

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Honda also confirmed widespread rumors that it would introduce the European-made Civic Type-R, a five-door “hot hatchback” that, only a few months ago had indicated was not coming to the American market.

“We’re adding an exclamation point” to the news, said the maker’s top U.S. executive, John Mendel, during a media briefing at the Jacob Javits convention center.

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Honda Upping its Truck Game

Maker expanding MDX production to 2nd plant, more to follow.

by on Feb.11, 2015

The 2014 Acura MDX has readily outsold all its competitors in the three-row luxury SUV category.

The only one of the major Japanese automakers not to offer a full-size pickup, Honda has long seemed reluctant to enter the lucrative truck market. But with buyers snapping up its SUVs and crossovers as fast they roll off the assembly line, Honda is finally getting serious.

It will introduce two utility vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show this week, a complete remake of the Honda Pilot, as well as an update of the Acura RDX. And, the maker says, it will invest $85 million to expand production of the bigger Acura MDX to a second plant in East Liberty, Ohio.

Keep on Truckin'!

Honda’s U.S. growth “will be driven heavily by our light truck business, such as HR-V and Pilot,” Executive Vice President John Mendel said during a Wednesday morning teleconference.

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Honda Claims Retail Sales Leadership

Why a sale isn't always a sale.

by on Nov.22, 2013

The Honda Accord lags slightly behind the Toyota Camry - but it leads its segment if you look only at retail sales.

“A sale isn’t always a sale,” or so says John Mendel, the top American executive at Honda, which has long steered clear of the daily rental and other fleet sales that prop up many of its competitors’ sales charts.

Honda has traditionally focused its marketing efforts on the retail side of the market and there, it claims, it has been gaining ground. In fact, the Japanese brand claims to now be the retail sales leader in four of the largest non-truck segments in the U.S. auto market with the midsize Civic, compact Accord, Odyssey minivan and CR-V crossover.

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Those powerhouse product lines helped Honda achieve a 16.2% increase in retail sales for the first nine months of 2013, while capturing a 16.1% share of the American market. During the same period in 2012, Honda held a 15.8% share of the retail market.

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“Emergency” Update of Honda Civic to Debut in LA

Maker hopes to “hone” its image after embarrassing mistakes.

by on Nov.12, 2012

Honda will unveil a major update of the much-panned Civic compact at the upcoming LA Auto Show.

Stung by a series of embarrassing mistakes that saw even import-friendly Consumer Reports magazine turn thumbs down, Honda will unveil what insiders have dubbed an “emergency refresh” of the maker’s long-popular Civic model at the upcoming LA Auto Show.

Putting a positive spin on the launch of a mid-cycle Civic update that comes several years earlier than would normally have been planned, Honda officials insist the compact model’s styling has been “honed to make the segment’s best-selling car even better.”

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Curiously, despite getting panned by most critics after its mid-2011 debut – and being dropped from the influential Consumer Reports “Recommended” list, the Civic has remained the compact segment’s leader. But it has clearly been losing momentum, something that forced Honda to make some fast tweaks to the Civic’s styling – as well as “enhancements” meant to address criticism of the vehicle’s interior and handling.

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Honda Tells Dealers, Clear Out Old Civic for “Emergency Refresh”

Early update aimed at resolving compact's many problems.

by on Oct.23, 2012

Honda will have an "emergency refresh" of the Civic in showrooms several years earlier than the normal mid-cycle update.

Honda will reveal an “emergency refresh” of its much-faulted Civic model next month, likely at the annual L.A. Auto Show, hoping to address the numerous problems that generated a critical drubbing of the long-popular Civic after its 2011 redesign.

In the meantime, the maker is pressing dealers to clear out leftover 2012 Civics as quickly as possible because the coming update will make it “a difficult model (to) sell,” according to an exclusive report by Autoblog.com.

Power Up!

The irony is that despite taking hits from many reviewers – including some downright hostile words from normally Honda-friendly Consumer Reports – the current Civic, flaws and all, has continued to be a strong force in the U.S. market.

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Acura Will Update – Then Drop — Slow-Selling ZDX

A grand send-off for a product few will miss.

by on Oct.10, 2012

Fade to black: Acura updates the ZDX before banishing the unloved crossover.

Some makers prefer to let their failures slip away quietly.  Acura, however, is giving a big send-off to the unloved ZDX as it prepares to banish the slow-selling crossover off into oblivion.

The ZDX has been one of the poorest performers in the entire lineup of Honda/Acura products – and one of an assortment of niche products that didn’t quite connect with U.S. consumers, also including the Honda-branded Insight and CR-Z models.

The maker is now looking to either find fixes – as with the updated CR-Z unveiled at the Paris Motor Show — or pare back and, as a corporate statement suggests, “sharpen (the) focus on new models and core products.”

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The Acura ZDX emerged in 2009 as part of a new wave of crossovers that seemed to be trying to find a balance between sports coupe and sport-ute. Perhaps the only real success in the segment has been the BMX X6. For the first nine months of the year, Acura sold just 642 ZDX crossovers, down from an already anemic 1220 during the same period the year before.  By comparison, the luxury maker sold 4692 of its more conventional MDX crossovers in September.

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Honda Tries Again with Updated Crosstour

Honda hopes sales will double for more ute-like CUV.

by on Apr.05, 2012

Honda tries again with the 2013 update of its slow-selling Crosstour model.

Honda hopes to pump some new life into one of its most troubled product lines with a modest but much-needed update for 2013.

No longer linked to the maker’s mainstay Accord, Honda officials are hoping to see sales double for the 2013 Crosstour.  Of course, that starts off a low base.  While the maker presented an assortment of upbeat owner testimonials during the opening of its New York Auto Show preview, the previously named Accord Crosstour simply didn’t connect with the general public.

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As with the new RLX flagship introduced in New York by its up-market Acura brand (Click Here), Honda is calling the Crosstour on its stand a “concept,” though as with the Acura model, the Honda Crosstour show car “is very close to the product we’ll be bringing out this fall,” said Sage Marie.  The executive was a product planner on the program but recently shifted assignments and is now head of Honda public relations.

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Honda Aims to Recover Lost Ground in 2012

New products like Accord, CR-V will be critical.

by on Dec.21, 2011

The 2012 CR-V will be critical to Honda's recovery.

Honda believes it is in a strong position to win back the market share it was forced to surrender this year as it adjusted production to cope with earthquakes and flooding.

The good news for the Japanese maker is that the major disruptions are finally behind it and with production and dealer inventories already on the rise, Honda is already regaining momentum, though it sees the big opportunity to rebuild sales coming in 2012, Tetsuo Iwamura, president and CEO of American Honda told reporters during an appearance in Detroit.

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However, Imaura tempered his predictions of healthy gains next year with an acknowledgement Honda seriously underperformed in 2012, racking up a long string of monthly sales decline. “It will be really low bar,” Imaura noted.

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