Ultimele articole din presa straina referitoare la Honda

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  • "New Car Smell" Could Be Bad For You: Study
    Ecology Center surveyed 200 car brands


    "New car smell," a grand perk for first-time car owners, might be harmful, according to a new study.

    The smell, often thought to be a combination of new leather and "fresh from the showroom" fabric from seats, is in some cases toxic fumes, The Ecology Center's report found.

    The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based group surveyed 200 of the most popular car brands in 2011 and 2012 and tested parts of the car -- the steering wheel, seats, dashboard and arm rest -- that are often the source of "new car smell."

    “Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center. “Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

    The group's results also showed that these chemicals can be a major source of indoor air pollution and could pose long-term health concerns, depending on how long you spend in your car.

    HealthyStuff.org, the website that initially published the findings, says the average American spends 1.5 hours a day inside their car. One expert says the report isn't reason enough to ditch your new car.

    “All they said is that there are these 200-some compounds in the new car – be aware,” Dr. Raed Dweik told Fox News. “Some of them, in other studies, have been linked to thyroid disease, infertility, or others, but these are all hypothetical scenarios because one, we don’t know if that’s true. Two, we don't know what level you need to be exposed to.”

    The safest cars on the Ecology Center's list were the 2012 Honda Civic, the 2011 Toyota Prius and the 2011 Honda CR-Z. According to the study, the Civic was free of bromine-based flame retardants in all interior components and used PVC-free (polyvinyl chloride) interior fabrics and interior trim. It also had low levels of heavy metals and other metal allergens. The least safe car on the list was the 2011 Mitisubishi Outlander SP.

    Industry group The Vinyl Institute disputed that PVCs were toxic.

    "The Ecology Center likes to issue scary reports about materials in cars and homes, but in fact they have no data showing actual injuries, and, in fact, no data showing exposures that would suggest harm," Vinyl Institute head Allen Blakey told USA Today in a statement. "It is not even certain that their analyses are correct, since X-ray fluorescence devices are sensitive tools that must be carefully calibrated."

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    • Ken's Top 10 Cars Mechanics Hate:


      Key Honda executive to leave Alabama post:


      Bigger engine improves Civic Si's drivability :

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/new-cars/reviews/bigger-engine-improves-civic-sis-drivability/article2349244/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedburner&utm_campaig n=Feed%3A+TheGlobeAndMail-Front+(The+Globe+and+Mail+-+Latest+News)

      What's the Most Affordable Full-Size Crossover?

      http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2012/02/whats-the-most-affordable-full-size-crossover.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=fe ed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+cars%2Fkickingtires+(Kicki ng+Tires)

      Honda Malaysia building new PDI Centre and Vehicle Quality Test Course in Melaka, ready in June:


      Honda: Let the marketing games begin:


      Honda Insight facelift arrives – 1.3L variant, RM99,800:


      For $11,500, It’s A Datshonda!



      Longest serving auto PR man? Honda's Kurt Antonius retires


      Honda's top PR executive, Kurt Antonius, is spending his last day on the job before he retires after 28 years. Colleagues believe he may be the longest-serving PR chief left in the car business.He was feted last night at a dinner near the company's headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

      Courtesy of Kurt Antonius

      When Antonius (Ann-ton-EYE-us) came to Honda after more than a decade at General Motors, Honda was a scrappy little Japanese automaker getting a foothold in the U.S. from a cramped office building in Gardena, Calif. A catering truck would pull up every day and honk its horn.Antonius modernized the publicity side of Honda, waking it up to a lot of the PR tactics that other automakers employed to garner press attention for their respective lineups. He started giving writers sneak peeks at cars long before they would be in the hands of the public to create buzz. He sponsored junkets to the far ends of the Earth -- St. Tropez, France, or Belize -- to put the automakers' cars in the best possible light. He not only took groups of American journalists to the Tokyo Motor Show, but led expeditions through Tokyo's fish market to give them an appreciation of Japanese culture.
      In the U.S., he became a master of finding ways to promote Honda:
      When other possibilities were falling through, he brought in a bunch of dogs to a press debut at the New York Auto Show three years ago to promote a dog-friendly version of the Honda Element. While the model has since been discontinued, the "New York dog and pony show," minus the ponies, was considered a smash.
      Today, through the efforts of Antonius and thousands of others, Honda is, of course, a major force in the auto business. It is based at a sprawling, modern campus in Torrance, a Los Angeles suburb.
      Antonius is known as one of the industry's most joyous characters, always quick with a quip. At one point, Antonius joshed a subordinate, "You can be replaced by a Palm Pilot." Years later that subordinate, Sage Marie, is taking Antonius' place as head PR guy. Marie noted the irony last night: Antonius is being replaced by the guy who can be replaced by a Palm Pilot.
      Marie said Antonius is "the longest tenured PR man in the business." In retirement, he plans to spend some quality time on his Nordhaven yacht, Endurance, and dabble in a few automotive museum projects.
      In remarks last night, Antonius said, "I had the best job in the auto industry." Few would disagree.

      Last edited by tokyodream; 01-03-12, 21:28. Reason: completare
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      • Insight: After Civic bruising, Honda fights for its soul

        http://www.courant.com/business/sns-rt-us-hondatre82100m-20120301,0,6805360.story?track=rss&utm_source=feed burner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Couran t%2FBusiness%2FNationWorld+(courant.com+-+BUSINESS+UPDATES)

        TOKYO/DETROIT (Reuters) - The future of Honda Motor Co may rest with a pair of contrarian Japanese car engineers working from a drab Tokyo suburb with a hotline to the boardroom. Their mission: just say no.

        Honda's creative directors Toshinobu Minami and Yoshinori Asahi are out to kill any mediocre car designs rumbling down the pipeline. In short, they have been told to stop anything like the 2012 Civic, a cheapened redesign that prompted critics, consumers and rivals to wonder how Honda had so badly lost its way.

        Inside Honda, in both Japan and the United States, that same question has also been asked with urgency. Honda, many say, slipped into designing cars by committee in recent years and drifted away from the iconoclastic ambitions of its founder. Honda had become boring.

        [Sample Our Free Connecticut Business Midday Newsletter]

        "Somewhere along the way, we lost the ability to express ourselves more freely," Asahi told Reuters. "We have a lot of designers here, and when we ask ourselves, 'Which Honda car would we want to buy?' Sometimes, some of us draw a blank."

        That's a startling admission at a company long praised for the quality and durability of its vehicles -- a company that caught U.S. automakers flat-footed in the 1970s with inexpensive, fuel-efficient cars like the original Civic.

        Touted four decades ago for its CVCC engine that boasted cleaner tailpipe emissions -- as well as inspiring the Civic name -- Honda has trailed with advances such as six-speed transmissions and direct fuel-injection systems.

        In recent years, Honda's "car guys," the engineers that built the automotive upstart into a powerhouse, were overshadowed by the "bean counters," financial executives more willing to cut corners on vehicle content to shore up margins, insiders say.

        That approach looks good on a spreadsheet, but it also carries the risk of a backlash. Consumers can turn on a debased version of a popular car and the resulting publicity can burn a brand -- a lesson GM, Ford and Chrysler all learned the hard way in the slide to crisis in 2008.

        Ironically, Detroit's willingness to settle for also-ran status in small-car quality created the opening for Honda in the 1970s and 1980s. Now, analysts and industry executives wonder whether Honda can rekindle the underdog ambition of founder Soichiro Honda.

        ================================================== ==

        U.S. Honda Civic incentives have increased since the 2012 version was introduced last April: http://link.reuters.com/vej66s

        Civic sales pick up as supply squeeze eases http://link.reuters.com/guk66s

        ================================================== ==

        Changes at Honda can't come soon enough after a terrible year. Slow to recover from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan a year ago, Honda's U.S. sales tumbled 7 percent in 2011. By contrast, Nissan bounced back with a 14 percent sales gain to almost match Honda's market share.

        Nissan, in particular, has made it a mission to overtake Honda in the United States and has closed the gap since 2010.

        Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor Co and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp have overtaken Japanese automakers as the benchmark for value-for-money. The Koreans have also taken advantage of a favorable exchange rate to install pricier fuel-saving technologies and other extras while Japanese brands struggle to offset the debilitating impact of a strong yen.

        "Honda somehow managed to get very, very far away from their engineering discipline," AutoTrends Consulting President Joseph Phillippi said, adding it could take three years for Honda to show it has turned the corner in car development.

        A financial rebound could come quicker, though. Honda has not given detailed forecasts for the fiscal year starting April, but executives see U.S. sales up by as much as 25 percent in 2012.

        Honda's earnings remain supported by a strong finance arm and its leading motorcycle business. In addition, the automaker is taking steps to shift more production to North America to shore up profitability.

        In another move that shows the importance Honda attaches to getting it right in the United States, the board last month promoted North America chief Tetsuo Iwamura to become the No. 2 global executive, the first time that job has been based outside Japan.

        But behind the scenes, the battle for Honda's automotive soul is being played out in places like Asahi and Minami's sprawling third-floor studio in the Tokyo suburb of Wako. If the upscale Aoyama neighborhood that houses Honda's headquarters can be likened to New York's Fifth Avenue, then Wako would be a dreary town in New Jersey.

        Since September, when they were promoted to fix Honda's car designs, Asahi, 47, and Minami, 44, have been working from Wako with a mission to shake things up. Both worked in the early 1990s on the fourth-generation Accord, a bigger Honda that won praise for its simplicity and a near-indestructible four-cylinder engine.

        "He hates doing what he's told to do," Asahi says of his partner with approval. "Just like me."

        Minami says it's a struggle to get Honda's designers to shed a conservatism born of the consensus-building approach typical of Japanese corporate culture. "I want designers to be heard at the company, but for that I need them to stop playing nice and compete more fiercely with each other," he said.

        OUT OF FAVOR

        "Playing nice" has already taken a toll on Honda.

        Last summer, Consumer Reports magazine savaged the redesigned Civic for a low-quality interior and choppy ride. It dropped the car from its recommended list and ranked it next to last among 12 compact sedans tested. It was the first time the Civic had failed to make the list since the buyer's guide was launched in 1993. As a brand, Honda lost its coveted top spot in the magazine's annual report on quality this week.

        "(It was as if they said) 'OK, we've got the marketplace. We're going to put in cheap interiors. We're not going to keep up with engine technology," said David Champion, senior director at Consumer Reports' auto test center.

        Honda executives realize their mistakes.

        "We should have been more aggressive," said Honda's top engineer, Yoshiharu Yamamoto. "The Civic is a cornerstone. And to have that car get the feedback that it did, we have to take that to heart."

        John Mendel, Honda's U.S. sales chief, has argued fallout from Consumer Reports' poor review has been minimal, pointing to the Civic's segment-leading sales in recent months. For the first two months of 2012, Civic's U.S. sales were up 45 percent.

        But industry research firm TrueCar.com says incentives on the Civic have more than quintupled since its debut last April to almost $1,900 per car in January, suggesting sales are being driven by attractive deals.

        Mendel acknowledges Honda cut costs on the Civic interior because it believed back in 2008 that consumers would want a cheaper small car at a time when the economy was sliding into a deep recession. Instead, rivals including Hyundai, Ford and GM all found American consumers ready to spend more for small cars with richer interiors, quality sound systems and extras like navigation and heated seats.

        "We missed a trend," Mendel said. "We zigged, the market zagged a little bit. We did some things that we thought were less important to the consumers."

        Honda is rushing a redesigned Civic to market late this year, essentially a facelift to protect the image of a car that is key to both Honda's future and heritage.

        The Civic is the model that famously put the then little-known Japanese automaker on the map in 1972. With a base price of around $12,000 in today's prices and a slogan that emphasized its no-nonsense engineering - "It will get you where you're going" - the Civic was a hit with Americans looking for a fuel-sipping small car in the wake of the first oil price spike.

        The Civic now accounts for one of every five of the three million-plus cars Honda sells worldwide.

        "They erred by taking the content out of the vehicle," said Mike Shaw, who owns Honda dealerships in Texas and Louisiana. "The bean counters probably did take over. They now have been overruled. That's an encouraging sign."

        Industry observers and insiders said Civic's large U.S. following -- 9 million sold -- tempted Honda to stick with a design that wouldn't alienate repeat buyers.


        Honda has always thought of itself as an engineering firm -- its formal name in Japanese translates to Honda Technology Research Industry -- and its CEO has always been an engineer.

        To avoid boring redesigns, Honda has had a long-standing policy of not letting engineers lead development of the same model twice. The idea was to encourage project leaders to "compete" with the previous version.

        "The structure was there, but maybe not the culture behind it," Minami said. "None of us, including top management, has ever worked with Soichiro Honda. It's a totally new generation."

        During his reign, engineers lived in fear of Soichiro Honda's surprise visits, which typically ended in deafening rants against mediocrity that earned him the moniker "Mr Thunder."

        He retired in 1983 and died nine years later. Many outside Honda say the company could really benefit from the aggressive drive he championed.

        "Soichiro Honda was definitely the opposite of a bean counter; he was like the automotive Steve Jobs," said Bob Lutz, a former GM vice-chairman and one of the industry's best-known "car guys," referring to Apple's late visionary leader.

        "He was always for technical progress and 'Don't tell me it's too expensive'," said Lutz, speculating Honda engineers no longer had the founder's voice ringing in their ears. "If they did, they would definitely have better technology and better styling. They've just lost it."


        Honda executives want to shatter that view. Yamamoto, the R&D chief, has a message for designers: worry less about what other departments may want. "I want them to work more freely."

        In the past, Honda designers didn't need permission to veer off script. They often banded together to work in secret on an alternative version of a car when unhappy with the approved blueprint. Going "behind the screen," as it was called, often had the tacit backing of managers who felt it upheld the spirit of Soichiro Honda.

        Asahi knows the power of going "behind the screen" first-hand. In the late 1990s, he began dreaming of an open-top sports car for Honda and spent his days drawing out models even though he was assigned to focus on car interiors. A rushed clay model that he developed with a group of like-minded designers outside work hours became the prototype for the S2000, a zippy roadster launched in 1999.

        "I've personally seen a lot of these dreams become a reality at this company," Asahi said. "That's why under the new Honda, I want to draw out the guys who have that kind of passion and make cars that way."

        Honda's creative duo now have a direct line to Chief Executive Takanobu Ito. Frustrated with the pace of decision-making at Honda, Ito has put himself in charge of Honda's car operations, splitting the core of the company into three units headed by engineers: the Acura premium brand, mid-sized vehicles and small cars.

        Analysts say the first true test for the "new" Honda will come with the redesigned Accord due later this year. The Accord is Honda's best-selling vehicle and previous generations made the Japanese automaker's reputation for easy-to-drive, smartly engineered cars with good fuel mileage.

        "It has to be a home run," said Lars Luedeman, head of Grant Thornton's auto advisory practice. "It's their bread and butter, a very high-margin vehicle."

        Unlike the Civic, the next Accord will be equipped with Honda's newest engines and transmissions -- technologies the company hopes will make its cars the most fuel-efficient in their class by 2015. It will be the first time in a decade Honda has overhauled the Accord's engine.

        Rivals have watched Honda's missteps with private glee.

        Nissan even ran a commercial last August which shows a loaded Nissan car carrier being driven past a frustrated Honda dealer in a poke at its rival's low inventories due to last year's Japanese earthquake and Thai floods.

        For Asahi and Minami, the pressure is on. They must ensure the next generation of Honda vehicles wow consumers. "What we need to do is to raise the quality of the output by such a high margin that it will shut everybody up," said Asahi.

        To that end they have already sent numerous projects back to the drawing board, they said. "The tension when we did that -- it was like all the air was being sucked out of the room," Minami said. "But that is our job."

        (Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Martin Howell and Mark Bendeich)


        American Honda Reports February Sales Increase on Success of New 2012 Civic, CR-V


        American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today reported February 2012 monthly new-vehicle sales of 110,157, an increase of 7.8 percent over February 2011, based on the daily selling rate*. The Honda Division posted February 2012 sales of 98,899, an increase of 8.8 percent year-over-year.

        In its second full month of sales, the all-new Honda CR-V eclipsed its previous February record with sales of 24,759, up 24.5 percent over last year’s total of 19,096 units. The all-new Civic continued to build momentum with sales of 27,087, up an impressive 36.0 percent compared to February 2011. The Accord posted January sales of 20,702, down 6.3 percent from the same period last year.

        “The ultimate arbiter of a vehicle's success is how customers vote with their purchase decision, and customers are voting for Civic," said John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of sales. "On top of the strong consumer support for the new Civic, we’re seeing tremendous demand for the all-new CR-V.”

        The Acura Division’s February sales totaled 11,258, up 0.1 percent compared to February 2011, with two models registering strong sales increases. Sales of the TL sedan reached 3,211, up 26.0 percent from the same period last year, while TSX sales set a new February record of 3,373, a year-over-year increase of 15.9 percent.

        *The daily selling rate (DSR) is calculated with 25 days for February 2012 and 24 days for February 2011. Year-to-date, the DSR is calculated with 49 days for 2012 and 48 days for 2011. All percentages reflect DSR.

        For more information about Honda vehicles, please visit www.automobiles.honda.com. For media inquiries please visit www.hondanews.com. For more information about Acura vehicles, please visit www.acura.com. For media inquiries please visit www.acuranews.com.


        Honda Siel Cars sales soar 83% in Feb


        New Delhi: Car-maker Honda Siel Cars India (HSCI) today reported an 82.86 per cent increase in its sales for February at 8,856 units. The company, which is a joint venture between Japanese auto major Honda and the Siel Group, had sold 4,843 units in the same month last year, HSCI said in a statement.
        "With normal production resuming in our Greater Noida plant from middle of last month, we are working towards normalising the supplies and cater to the growing demand of our cars," HSCI Senior Vice-President (Sales and Marketing) Jnaneswar Sen said.
        The Brio and the new City have received an good response from the market and the company is positive that the growth momentum will continue in the coming months with increased demand for all its products, he added.
        During the month, the company sold 6,052 units of its flagship sedan City and 2,046 units of its small car Brio. It also sold 356 units of the premium hatchback Jazz and 208 units of sedan Civic.
        Besides, HSCI sold 94 units of the premium sedan Accord and 100 units of sports utility vehicle CR-V in February 2012.
        Last edited by tokyodream; 02-03-12, 16:05.
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        • Honda CR-V Still Sales King of Crossover Hill for February 2012


          With February and its extra day out of the way the compact and midsize crossover/SUV sales race is heating up. While the compact crossover/SUV sales chart didn’t see much change with the 2012 Honda CR-V retaining its first place spot, the midsize crossover/SUV list saw much jockeying and shuffling around. Though the Jeep Grand Cherokee kept its top spot, the Honda Pilot was a new entry that bumped the rival Toyota Highlander out of the top five.

          1) Honda CR-V – 24,759 Sold/43,719 YTD – Unchanged

          For the second month in the row Honda’s CR-V reigns over its rivals as the top-selling compact crossover/SUV in the United States. Thanks to the continual roll-out of the 2012 CR-V, Honda’s compact crossover was up 24.5 percent year-over year, with 24,759 sold in February. That brings the CR-V’s year-to-date total to 43,719 – impressive considering we’re only two months into the year.

          2) Ford Escape – 18,666 Sold/35,925 YTD – Unchanged

          Sitting pretty in second place again is the Ford Escape. As was the case last month, the impending roll-out of the 2013 Escape is likely helping boost sales as dealers look to clear inventory for the new model. Escape sales were only up 3.7 percent last month. With 18,666 Escapes sold in February, Ford’s year-to-date total comes in at 35,935.

          3) Chevrolet Equinox – 17,851 Sold/31,513 YTD – Unchanged

          Taking bronze in last month’s sales race was the Chevy Equinox again. Equinox sales continue to grow steadily; last month sales were up 15.7 percent year-over-year, bringing its monthly sales total to 17,851 – just shy of its Dearborn rival. Chevrolet has sold 31,513 Equinoxes thus far in 2012.

          4) Nissan Rogue – 13,423 Sold/23,327 TYD – Unchanged

          The Nissan Rogue remained in fourth place for February’s compact crossover/SUV sales. Rogue sales jumped 17.5 percent versus the same period last year, helping Nissan to move 13,423 Rogues. Nissan has sold 23,327 Rogues so far this year.

          5) Toyota RAV4 – 12,677 Sold/22,496 YTD – Unchanged

          Rounding out the top five for the second month in a row is the Toyota RAV4. Toyota managed to sell 12,677 RAV4s last month, which was only a 0.9 percent year-over-year increase. While Toyota’s 22,496 year-to-date RAV4 sales give it a nice cushion over the next closest contender, if sales continue to stay largely flat it isn’t conceivable to imagine the RAV4 being bumped out of the top five.

          One to Watch:

          Jeep Wrangler – 9319 Sold/17,215 YTD

          One of the last true old-school body-on-frame SUVs still available, the Wrangler’s unashamedly back-to-basics nature didn’t keep consumers from buying this adventuresome icon. Although it didn’t approach the same numbers as the more suburban-oriented crossovers, its surprisingly strong sales performance and 22.0 percent year-over-year growth proves there’s still a market for the original SUV.

          Midsize Crossover/SUVs

          1) Jeep Grand Cherokee – 12,724 Sold/23,407 YTD – Unchanged

          For the second month in a row the Jeep Grand Cherokee was the best-selling midsize crossover/SUV in the U.S. The 12,724 Grand Cherokees sold allowed the Jeep to be the only midsizer to keep the same spot it had last month. Grand Cherokee sales were up a staggering 46.8 percent versus the same period last year. With 23,407 Grand Cherokees sold so far this year, Jeep has built up a pretty sizeable – but not insurmountable – lead over its next closest competitor

          2) Ford Edge – 10,535 Sold/18,005 YTD – Up 1

          There was a bit of inter-company rivalry going on last month for the number two slot, with the Ford Edge ultimately taking silver over the Ford Explorer. Ford sold 10,535 Edges last month, a 3.9 percent increase year-over-year, bringing the sporty crossover’s year-to-date total to 18,005.

          3) Ford Explorer – 10,440 Sold/20,406 YTD – Down 1

          The Ford Explorer got the short end of the stick last month, being beaten out of its second place slot by its Edge stablemate. Ford’s 10,440 Explorers sold represented an 8.1 percent year-over-year increase, and helps put it solidly in second in year-to-date sales.

          4) Honda Pilot – 8879 Sold/15,244 YTD – New Entry

          After being a no-show on the sales chart last month the Honda Pilot came seemingly out of nowhere to snag fourth place from the Kia Sorento, ultimately bumping the Toyota Highlander off the chart. Honda managed to sell 8879 Pilots last month, which represented a 3.6 percent increase over last year. Honda has sold 15,244 Pilots so far in 2012.

          5) Kia Sorento – 8386 Sold/15,708 YTD – Down 1

          Though it was bumped from last month’s spot, the Kia Sorento still remains in the top five with 8386 vehicles sold. Currently Kia’s best-selling vehicle, Sorento sales were down 2.9 percent versus February of 2011. Even so, Kia has still managed to sell 15,708 of the American-made three-row crossover so far in 2012.

          Ones to Watch:

          Toyota Highlander – 8155 Sold/15,011 YTD – Down 1

          Toyota’s bread-and-butter midsize offering got narrowly edged out by the Sorento, thanks to the dark horse Pilot. Though it’s currently out of the running, it’s likely over the course of the year the Highlander will nudge its way back into the top five.

          Chevrolet Traverse – 7966 Sold/14,606 YTD

          Chevy’s version of the Lambda crossover may be the best-selling of GM’s jumbo-sized crossover triplets, but it still wasn’t enough to get it in the top five. Will it elbow its way in to the top five sometime this year? Being only a few hundred units off of this month’s number five model, it’s possible.


          Driving Northwest: 2012 Honda CR-V


          Quick, name the best selling SUV over the past five years. I asked five of my very tolerant co-workers and came up with three votes for Ford Explorer, and one vote each for Suburban and Range Rover (even after I explained it was most popular, not most expensive).

          Since you’re here to read about the new 2012 Honda CR-V you have a pretty strong clue. Honda’s cute-ute has been numero uno for four out of the last five years and if an earthquake and tsunami hadn’t decimated Honda’s production, they’d probably be batting 1000.

          The 2012 model sports crisp new clothes, drinks 10 percent less, and keeps its great reputation (you know, the qualities women wish upon their men). CR-V is aimed like a laser site at the more responsible gender, women love the size and utility of this vehicle. Owners told Honda not to mess with the size. Done. The new one is actually an inch shorter and lower.

          A Little History

          The next time you’re playing Trivial Pursuit, Auto Edition, remember that Honda named the CR-V after what they set out to build, a Comfortable Runabout Vehicle. It also stands for California Redemption Value, the refundable fee paid when buying cans of Coke but that’s a whole different story.

          CR-V was introduced in Japan in 1995 and apparently Honda initially believed it was a low volume model but it blossomed despite a modest marketing campaign. When they saw Toyota doing well with the small RAV4 in the US, they shipped CR-V stateside in 1997, complete with a cargo floor that turned into a small picnic table.

          Prices (with destination) start at $23,105 for an LX model with front-drive. The mid-level EX AWD model Honda has dropped off for me retails for $26,455.

          Moderate Power To The People

          Unlike competitors Escape, Forester, Tucson and Sportage, CR-V has only one engine- a revised 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 185 horsepower and 163 lb-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm. That’s up five ponies and two lb-ft. The five-speed automatic- again, the only choice- is also tweaked, but still does not have a manual mode.

          The optional Real Time 4WD system is new. It’s electronically controlled now, the outgoing system was a mechanically-activated and needed a bit of wheel slip from the front tires to activate the rear. The new lighter system anticipates slippery conditions for better traction and control.

          RT 4WD is completely automatic and transparent in operation. It’s designed to maximize traction on sloppy and snowy roads, not rugged off-roading (but you knew this). Really, it’s all most people ever need. Those planning to tow stuff should know it’s limited to 1,500 pounds.

          Hill Start Assist keeps CR-V from rolling backwards on a hill when you move your foot off the brake to the accelerator pedal. Handy in Seattle.

          On The Road

          CR-V feels spunky enough in city driving. It has average acceleration with a 0-60 time of just over nine seconds. Push the green “Econ” button to save gas and things get a bit sluggish, especially on hills since it backs off on the throttle response and remaps transmission shift points. EPA rated fuel economy is excellent in class, 22 mpg city, 30 highway.

          To visualize efficient driving, light bars that look like parentheses surrounding the speedometer turn green when you’re driving efficiently and white when you’re late picking up the kids from daycare.

          At higher speeds there’s less road noise now- thank you Honda- just don’t expect Buick-like serenity. In city driving CR-V is pretty agile with a suspension that’s a good blend of comfort and sport. Not loads of road feel but for a small ute it’s fun to fling about. Disk brakes at all four corners stop securely. U-turns are a breeze.

          Department of the Interior

          The cabin is a tasteful and conservative place to spend miles and time. There are more cubby holes than seats so there’s plenty of places to loose your sunglasses. The covered center console is big enough to swallow a small purse. Instrument panel plastics may be hard but everything looks good. Folding armrests on the nicely bolstered front chairs keep people comfy though my wife finds the lumbar positioning on Honda’s seats annoying. It’s why there are test drives.

          iPod and Bluetooth phone integration is standard on all CR-Vs, so is a back up cam with three different views.

          Honda calls the screen “i-MID” and like a busy parent it handles a lot of chores. It houses a trip computer and you can load a picture for personalized wallpaper. Connect an iPhone with a Pandora app and there’s streaming music complete with album art. Hook up a Blackberry or selected Android phones and it will read incoming text messages. No, you can’t get Pandora through Android and no, texts won’t be read by iPhones.

          Other i-MID pages allow tailoring of the cars features such as lighting and how the car locks and unlocks. Generally i-MID is easy to operate- listen up luxury car manufacturers- though in my keep it didn’t like displaying FM radio info such as song and artist. Also, the screen’s ethereal blue glow reflects onto the dashboard, which then reflects onto the upper windshield. It often looks like the aurora borealis up near the rear view mirror.

          Other gripes? The six-speaker audio system is average and if you want XM you have to move to the EX-L model with its improved sound system (note- the base system gets only four speakers). The sunroof is small when compared to the panoramic glass roof of Tucson and Sportage. Keyless ignition? Not available. On the other hand, a DVD entertainment system, heated leather seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, and sat nav are on the option list.

          Easy Loading

          CR-V is aimed squarely at women with young families and to help load child seats and squirming kids into the back seat, the rear doors open very wide, nearly 90 degrees. The cushion itself is a bit flat but there’s a good amount of space, leg and foot room won’t be a problem for adults. Two seat pockets, a folding armrest with cupholders, and door storage help keep things organized. The floor is nice and flat. The only shortcoming is the lack of a power port for phone charging.

          One feature I really liked on the outgoing CR-V was a vertically moveable shelf that spanned the width of the cargo area. Unfortunately that’s gone, Honda says owners just weren’t that into it. Under the cargo floor is a spare tire, useful on forest service roads, where AAA might not find you. Bag hooks and a storage nook are nice too.

          The best trick comes from the rear seats that drop flat with one tug of a lever in the trunk (or a strap on the lower seat cushion). I suggest watching the video, it’s an interesting ballet. This feature makes CR-V very useful, more than you might imagine.

          As far as cargo room, the previous generation CR-V swallowed a lofty 12 bundles. Eyeballing it I was skeptical the new one could match that but somehow, generation four continues the legacy of a dozen packs.

          Real world use finds the space extremely useful. I picked up my son and his friend, stranded miles from home with a flat bicycle tire in a rainstorm. By flopping down the larger side of the 60/40 seats, both boys and their bikes were comfortably on their way home to a mug of hot chocolate. Yes, I had to remove the front bike tires.


          Let’s touch on design for a moment. I haven’t been a fan of Honda’s direction lately but CR-V gives me hope. The overbite is gone from the grille, the tailgate is less busy and the D-pillar with integrated tail lamps has a stronger sense of purpose. Nice to see balanced purposeful lines from Honda again. A couple of my neighbors mistook it for a Volvo, which tells me Honda is improving and the Swede has finally shed its box-on-wheels image.

          Competition has never been tougher in the compact sport ute market and a new Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 are on the horizon. There’s also the fact that CR-V is not the least expensive in class. But it has a great reputation, terrific utility and that new sense of style to win shoppers over. It won’t be much of a surprise to find this comfortable runabout vehicle on the most popular list again.


          Volkswagen Targeting Honda in USA


          COMPARE: VW Jetta Vs. Honda Civic Vs. VW Passat Vs. Honda Accord

          Frankfurt Germany February 29, 2012; Christiaan Hetzner writing for Reuters reported that Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn squeezes his bulky frame behind the wheel of the new Honda Civic and takes out a tape measure - part of a forensic, and very public, inspection of the five-door compact at last September's Frankfurt car show.

          "You were a role model for us for many years once," he tells an attendant Honda official. "Really."

          They were the words of a man who knows Honda is on the ropes in the United States, and who fervently hopes he can eat the Japanese group's lunch in its biggest market.

          The United States is home to nearly one in two Honda buyers, but its sales there fell 7 percent last year while overall U.S. vehicle sales expanded at a double-digit pace.

          As a result, Honda's market share has tumbled 2 percentage points in two years to 8 percent in 2011. Volkswagen is headed in the opposite direction, albeit from a low base.

          Winterkorn wants to at least double the Volkswagen VW.L brand's 2.5 percent U.S. market share. Last year's sales performance was the best VW has managed there in three decades, with sales of Jettas and Passats up 44 percent and 83 percent respectively.

          "The good news for Volkswagen is that brand loyalty is not what it used to be. Honda buyers started to flee to other brands like Hyundai because they wanted to express themselves and not be just one of the herd," said TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak.

          At an international level, VW has had its ups and downs since its birth in 1930s Germany, but it has come out of the 2008 crisis better than most.

          While General Motors was pushed into a pre-packaged bankruptcy and Toyota endured its first ever operating loss, the Wolfsburg-based group has emerged as the world's second largest carmaker with the firepower to buy Peugeot, Fiat and Renault put together.

          It made a record profit in 2011, but will need to prey on weaker rivals abroad to keep growing. That is because its core European market is set to shrink to its smallest in a decade, and carmakers are piling on costly, margin-corrosive incentives for free to compete for what remains.

          VW's ultimate goal of becoming the largest, most profitable carmaker in the industry hinges on whether it can find lasting nourishment in the United States, where its pricey imports long ago forced the brand to feed off the scraps left over by others.

          By shifting German car production to Tennessee and taking expensive features out of their over-engineered cars, a practice known as "de-contenting", VW has succeeded in luring customers back with affordable entry prices and sporty sedans like the Jetta - features that were once the hallmarks of Honda's Accords and Civics.

          "Our biggest competitor here is Honda, since its customer base shares the same core values. We both focus on sportiness and versatility and have high demands when it comes to handling," VW's U.S. strategy chief, Rainer Michel told Reuters.

          Toyota's no-frills customers do not buy a Camry to enjoy the ride, he said, while Hyundai buyers are attracted to the kind of trendy exterior designs which Honda and VW both eschew.

          HUGE BULL'S-EYE

          Honda, by contrast, has a pool of well-educated and more affluent U.S. car owners who tend to favour more subdued styling packaged into a fun ride.

          Among its five biggest competitors, Honda boasts the lowest spending on incentives like cash rebates or free features and trim, according to auto-information website Edmunds.com.

          It also abstains entirely from selling to fleets like Hertz rental agency. Fleet sales and incentives are both pressure valves many carmakers resort to when times are hard.

          "We are not the flashy choice, we are the smart choice that informed customers make after weighing things like reliability, fuel economy, driving enjoyment and so on. This helps us keep a tight lid on incentives and preserve a high resale value for our owners," said American Honda spokesman Chris Martin.

          "That also means that we have a huge bull's-eye painted on our back, though, since any other auto company would love to attract this kind of customer base."

          But the chinks are starting to show in Honda's armour. It expects operating profit in the year to end-March 2012 to fall 65 percent to its lowest level in three years, prompting Moody's to downgrade the company's outlook to negative due partly to the tougher competition from predators like VW.

          Earthquakes, tsunamis and floods in Japan and Thailand severely damaged its supply chain last year. Making matters worse, the latest Civic model has been panned by critics in the United States, forcing Honda to promise a costly facelift much earlier than planned.

          "The Civic was for the longest time the torch bearer for what Honda was all about - compact cars with efficient four cylinder engines and very responsive chassis that give drivers a great feeling for the road," said Bill Visnic, an analyst and senior editor for Edmunds.com.

          "That reputation has been slipping rather precipitously, though, ever since they began compromising to chase market share with cars getting bigger and the ride becoming softer."


          Meanwhile VW has one of the youngest customer bases - important for a brand's image - while spending even less than Honda on incentives - quick fixes that boost volumes but ultimately hurt demand over the long run as resale values fall.

          As a result, the new Passat sedan spends half as long collecting dust on a dealer lot than the average U.S. vehicle.

          "A lot of new VW buyers were Honda owners who no longer wanted to see 10 other exact same cars every time they came to a stop at the traffic light," said Chris Chaney, Vice President of consumer research group Strategic Vision.

          According to his firm's surveys, Honda was the brand to surrender sales the most to VW last year. VW owners are more prone not just to feel better about driving their new cars but also to be more excited about them than Honda customers.

          "There is no question that there are Honda owners who see Volkswagen as a step towards the prestige associated with German engineering," Chaney said.

          With gasoline prices expected to climb, market researcher Art Spinella believes VW can also benefit from its strong range of fuel-efficient diesels, but warns a patchy dealer network, largely based in coastal areas, will continue to hold them back.

          "Pump prices mean that car buyers will consider VW much more often, but for that to translate into actual sales they need good dealers, and here they are only strong in the slow-growth states in the Northeast," said Spinella, President of CNW.

          In order to hit its sales target of 800,000 VW brand car sales by 2018, VW opened up in January a new sales office in Dallas to support the near 100 dealers spread thinly across 16 states.

          Dependability may also need to improve, however, before buyers in more rural areas think about a VW.

          "I think the biggest problem Volkswagen will need to address is its reliability issues, if it wants to make greater inroads into the American heartlands," said Gabriel Shenhar, Senior Auto Test Engineer & Program Manager at Consumer Reports.

          In the hopes of better persuading Honda owners to defect, VW has poached marketing guru Tim Mahoney from Japanese rival Subaru of America (7270.T).

          Known for his ability to hit an emotional nerve through ads like the Subaru Love campaign, he was recently voted by industry newspaper Automotive News as one of 10 managers to watch this year alongside such exalted peers as the group chief executives of Toyota, Ford and, yes, Honda.

          BARKING DOGS

          VW's traditional focus has been on its engineering prowess, but Mahoney favours funny skits like the "Vamonos" ad, with its clever emphasis on the fuel economy features of the VW Passat TDI.

          "In a world of instant entertainment, companies can overestimate what a person can absorb in a 30 second spot that flashes over a TV screen," he told Reuters.

          "But by engaging someone with ad they can relate to, you can draw people into a more complete experience offered on our website or get them to download the latest Golf racing app."

          VW built on last year's Star Wars-themed "Force" commercial, voted the best ad of 2011 by industry publication Adweek, with a viral teaser spot on YouTube that featured a choir of dogs barking out the theme tune from the space saga.

          Not so much as a front headlight - let alone a whole car - is ever shown, but the association with VW is unmistakable.

          "People are even filming their dogs watching the spot and posting it on the internet. Humour is a big part of what we do and people like to participate," said Mahoney, a language major who studied in Vienna and Goettingen.

          Honda's ad people are fighting back.

          Fresh from a month of resurgent Civic sales in January, it is creating buzz with a popular ad where Matthew Broderick reprises his role from the 1980s hit "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", only this time he is behind the wheel of a CR-V crossover instead of a vintage Ferrari 250GT cabrio.

          A Honda executive who worked for six years in the United States says last year marked the trough in sales for the brand, and the business there is now firmly on a path to recovery.

          "It is true that Volkswagen has been expanding aggressively with success, but I believe the U.S. sales data for the new Civic in January is indicative of the new improving trend," Honda Europe President Manabu Nishimae told Reuters.

          Just to make sure, though, American Honda reshuffled its management in order "to further speed decision-making and increase efficiency and competitiveness," it said last week.


          Canadian automotive sales


          Chrysler holds on to top spot

          Canadian auto sales were looking way up in February, with virtually every automaker seeing a year-over-year increase, with the exception of Ford.

          Chrysler lead the way in overall sales, moving a total of 16,536 units within its five divisions (Chrysler, Ram, Jeep, Dodge, Fiat). That was good for a nine percent increase over February of last year. Strong individual model sales came from Ram pickup trucks and the Jeep Wrangler, the latter of which saw a year-over-year increase of 105 percent.
          Toyota, along with its Lexus and Scion divisions, saw a significant 31 percent year-over-year increase. It sold a total 12,384 vehicles, putting it in fourth place overall among Canadian manufacturers, behind General Motors (which sold 14,258, up 16 percent) and ahead of Hyundai (9,266, up 6.5 percent).

          Toyota was helped by strong sales from its Yaris hatchback (up 254 percent), Camry and Camry Hybrid (up 250 percent) and Lexus GS 350 (up 244 percent).

          After a tough year in 2011, Honda and its luxury Acura division had reason to be happy as its sales increased 14 percent over last February, moving a total of 8,883 vehicles. It was lead by the new CR-V, which saw record sales, as well as the Acura TL, which saw a sales increase of 64 perfect over last year.

          Other manufacturers that saw big increases included Kia (4,644 vehicles sold, up 20 percent YOY), Nissan/Infiniti (6,342, up 17 percent) and Mercedes-Benz/Smart (2,393, up nearly 17 percent).
          Volkswagen (3,539), BMW (2,181), Subaru (1,902), Mitsubishi (1,581) and Porsche (168) all set individual bests for February sales.


          Book: Ford secretly partnered with Toyota, Honda during economic crisis


          While the headline might seem shocking, given the circumstances of the 2009 global economic meltdown, it only makes sense. Ford's dealings with two of its biggest competitors were centered around mutual self-preservation in the form of trying to keep a beleaguered supplier base afloat, according to The Detroit News. According to the report, Ford, Toyota and Honda cooperated to buy from common suppliers in a bid to keep those parts-makers from going under, which would have threatened the automakers' viability. That revelation comes courtesy of a new book, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman.

          The auto industry is far more complex than many people realize, especially in this modern era, with ever-more demanding regulations and brutal competition from all corners of the globe. Tier One suppliers, as the biggest parts companies are known, have assumed much of the engineering and product testing and development work for new vehicles, even including big chunks of assembly.

          When times get tough, as they most certainly did in late 2008, suppliers are often the canary in the coal mine. At least 27 automotive suppliers filed for Chapter 11 in 2009, meaning that Ford had good reason for taking such precautions, referred to as "Project Quark" internally, according to the report.

          Interestingly enough, General Motors and Chrysler, the pair that eventually sought bankruptcy, chose not to participate in the alliance, with GM allegedly expressing concerns over the legality of such a maneuver. The book says Ford's antitrust attorneys were careful to avoid setting foot on the wrong side of such laws, which prohibit collusion on pricing, among other restrictions on cooperative behavior by competitors.

          There are quite a few other interesting anecdotes in Hoffman's book, including a heated argument between Mark Fields, Ford's President of the Americas (now said to be in line to succeed CEO Alan Mulally), and Don Leclair, the company's then chief financial officer. According to Automotive News, a passage in the book declares that Leclair suggested that Fields cut the advertising budget for Ford's Bold Moves campaign in 2006. This led to heated argument, that ended up with Fields making a move toward Leclair while spouting some choice four-letter words. The altercation was broken up by none other than Bill Ford Jr.
          Last edited by tokyodream; 03-03-12, 09:22.
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          • Spy Shots: Honda Insight testing in China


            Published on February 10, 2012 by Tycho de Feyter

            Honda Insight testing in China

            The very first spy shots of the Honda Insight hybrid testing on Chinese roads. Last month we saw the CR-Z hybrid doing the tests and in August last year we heard Honda was planning to make both cars in China, likely under the Guangzhou-Honda joint venture.

            Honda Insight testing in China

            Chinese media however now says the Honda Insight will be imported. This seems very unlikely since the Insight will in that case become far too expensive compared to the Toyota Prius which will be locally made by the FAW-Toyota joint venture.

            Things are thus still a bit unclear, we’ll keep you posted…

            Via: Sina.com.


            Spy Shot: Honda Elysion testing in China


            The very first spy shot of the Honda Elysion MPV testing in China. The Elysion will be listed on the Chinese car market in July, it will be made in China by the Guangzhou-Honda joint venture. Power will come from a 2.4, price will start around 200.000 yuan. Via: Sohu.


            Spy Shot: Honda CR-Z testing in China

            Spy shots from the Honda CR-Z hybrid coupe testing in China. The CR-Z ain’t on the Chinese car market yet but Honda seems to have some plans. Big question for now is: will it be imported or locally made?

            When Honda wants to enjoy new tax-brakes for hybrid cars it has to produce locally. If they do, they will likely do so under the Guangzhou-Honda joint venture. It might be imported first and made locally later. All a bit uncertain at the moment, we’ll keep you posted.

            Honda CR-Z China

            The Chinese source where I got this story from thought the car on pics was the new Honda Civic. It ain’t, it is the CR-Z indeed. Thanks to commenter Mr. Matthew for being more awake than I was…



            Spy Shots: facelift for the Honda Odyssey in China


            The Chinese Honda Odyssey will get a facelift. The Odyssey is one of the most poplar MPV’s on the Chinese car market and is always in fierce competition with the Buick GL8. The facelifted car will debut at the Beijing Auto Show in April.

            The current Odyssey, made in China by the Guangzhou-Honda joint venture. In June last year we heard that Honda applied for patent in China on the US-version of the Odyssey, which is a much bigger and more up-market car. Honda will likely bring that one to China as well, as an import and under a different name, aimed at the high-end MPV market. And to make the party complete, Honda will also start building the Elysion MPV in China at the Dongfeng-Honda joint venture.

            Price of the current Odyssey starts at 199.800 yuan and ends at 279.300 yuan. Only engine is a 2.4 with 180hp and 218nm. Engine will continue in the new car, price will be about the same.


            Honda Elysion MPV will be made in China


            The Honda Elysion MPV will be made in China by the Dongfeng-Honda joint venture. Production will start in May and it will enter the market in July. A very first pre-production Elysion is expected to debut at the Beijing Auto Show in April.

            Power will come from a 2.4 mated to a 5-speed automatic, good for 181hp. Drive train: 4×2 or 4×4. Price yet unknown but it is a big car with a big engine, so a good guess is a start from around 200.000 yuan.


            China-made Honda Fit arrives In Canada


            Chinese-made cars have quietly arrived in North America for the first time, but without the bamboo dashboards and quirky names that have adorned them at recent auto shows.

            Japanese automaker Honda is crossing the threshold by importing subcompact cars into Canada from one of its plants in China. This month, Honda Canada began receiving its smallest model, the Fit, from China instead of Japan, as part of a strategy to produce more vehicles outside its home country.

            The decision allows Honda to eke out higher profit in a segment of the auto market where margins are extremely thin, especially since the high value of the yen cuts into all Japanese automakers’ overseas operations.

            “The yen has been getting stronger and stronger,” Jerry Chenkin, executive vice president of Honda Canada, said on Tuesday.

            Few car shoppers are likely to notice the change, and there is no expectation that Chinese-made cars are destined for the United States anytime soon. But the Honda imports are significant because vehicles are among the few categories of consumer products in North America for which manufacturers had not turned to China to try to cut costs.

            “There’s been much talk about Chinese cars being sold in North America, but we hadn’t seen that yet,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com, an automotive research Web site. “These are from a well-known, major global automaker, so that eliminates some of the challenges that face Chinese automakers.”

            All the major automakers have plants in China, which they generally use to make vehicles to sell there. Only 3 percent, or 580,000, of the vehicles built in China last year were exported. Many automakers are reluctant to use that capacity to supply other countries because they want to maximize sales in China, now the world’s largest car market.

            Mr. Chenkin said that the move had relatively little to do with direct costs. He declined to comment about wage differences between Japan and China.

            “From what I understand, in terms of the cost of production for the Fit, the difference between China and Japan is not significant,” he said. “But the exposure of the yen exchange rate is of concern to Honda and other manufacturers.”

            Lower disposable incomes and higher gasoline prices in Canada mean that small cars like the Fit are more popular there than in the United States. Honda’s profit on the Fit is further squeezed by a 6.1 percent import duty, while many competing models enter Canada duty-free because they are made in Mexico or the United States.

            Honda is building a plant in Mexico that is scheduled to start assembling the Fit for the United States and other countries in early 2014. Honda is likely to use that plant to supply Canada as well, most likely making the importing from China a temporary measure.

            Honda has been exporting the Fit from China to 27 countries, mainly in Europe where it is sold as the Jazz, for about five years, so there is no concern in Canada about the quality of its production, Mr. Chenkin said.

            “We are fully confident that these vehicles meet all Honda standards,” he said. The company has imported electrical power generators to Canada from Honda plants in China for some time without encountering quality issues or customer resistance, he said.

            John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, said that there were no plans to supply dealers in the United States with Chinese-made Fits.

            Ms. Krebs said Honda and other automakers would have a more difficult time selling cars assembled in China to Americans than to Canadians and Europeans. Although made-in-China products are common in the United States, most cost a small fraction of the price of a car. Even established automakers like Honda are hesitant to risk turning off buyers with Chinese imports, particularly because the United States is an important source of profit and prestige.

            “Canada’s always been much more open to cars from places that it was not acceptable for the U.S.,” Ms. Krebs said. “Honda has a production system that it uses every place in the world. Consumers can be pretty confident that the same standards apply.”

            Analysts note that American car shoppers were largely skeptical of Japanese and Korean vehicles in their early days here and would tend to react similarly to models made in China, at least initially. A study earlier this year by the consulting firm GfK Automotive found that about one-third of Americans were open to buying a car from China. Younger respondents were more amenable.

            The Fit is a relatively small-volume car in Canada, with sales of 2,802 through November. That is down 55 percent from the same period in 2010, largely because of supply shortages in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March.

            Honda has a large manufacturing presence in Canada, where it builds the Civic, several Acura models and engines. It is hiring an additional 400 workers in Alliston, Ontario, where production of CR-V sport utility vehicles will begin next month.

            Via: NewYorkTimes.
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            • al doilea sub-brand HONDA in China:


              Spy Shot: old Honda CR-V to become a Ciimo in China

              Spy shot from the old Honda CR-V with a Ciimo-badge. Ciimo is a new sub-brand under the Dongfeng-Honda joint venture. They will make cheap(er) cars based on Honda’s that were made in China by Dongfeng-Honda.

              Their first car will be a Ciimo-badged last-gen Honda Civic and according to new reports from Chinese automotive media the second car will be the last-gen CR-V. The new CR-V has just been listed in China, the old one however will stay on for a while until production of the new CR-V is at full steam. By that time it seems likely the Honda-badge will be exchanged for a Ciimo-badge. Via: Mop.


              primul model CIIMO in CHINA:


              Spy Shots: Dongfeng-Honda Ciimo DHW 7181

              Ciimo is a new sub-brand from the Dongfeng-Honda joint venture. Their first car is based on the outgoing Honda Civic made in China by Dongfeng-Honda. We don’t know the name yet so for now we use the internal code name DHW7181.

              Note new Ciimo-logo. Power will come from Honda’s 1.8 with 140hp mated to a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic. No electric motors of hybrids are planned. Price will start around 110.000 yuan, neatly below the new Civic which starts at 131.800 yuan.
              Via: Autohome.

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              primul brand in china:

              Guangqi Honda’s Original Brand Introduces “Li Nian S1”

              Last edited by tokyodream; 03-03-12, 13:53.
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              • RealTime Readies V6 Acura TSX for 2012 World Challenge


                TOV Note: The following press release was submitted to us last week (28 February) but we somehow missed it the first time around. Apologies for the delay.

                Drivers Cunningham and Esayian return with eyes on GTS Championship

                SAUKVILLE, Wis. (February 28, 2012) – RealTime Racing will enter the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge Championships with renewed vigor, as the Wisconsin-based team revealed plans to field a pair of V6-powered Acura TSXs in the GTS category. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Nick Esayian, of Encinitas, Calif., both return to pilot the No. 42 and No. 34 Acuras.

                After winning the inaugural GTS Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships in 2010, RealTime went head-to-head with a GTS field predominated by V8-powered Boss 302 Ford Mustangs in 2011. The team took home one win, two pole positions and eight podium finishes en route to a runner-up finish for Acura in the manufacturer standings. For 2012, the upgrade to a V6 power plant will play a key role in RealTime’s quest to return the GTS manufacturer trophy to Acura.

                “Acura’s four-cylinder TSX engine served us well for eight seasons, winning the Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009, and the first-ever GTS title in 2010,” Cunningham said. “With the GTS class growing in popularity and diversity, it’s become necessary for us to take a step up in Acura’s range of TSX options.”

                Acura’s 3.5-liter VTEC® V6 combined with the TSX’s nimble handling will provide RealTime with the perfect weapon to take on the larger displacement and forced-induction machinery of GTS and pursue a record-10th World Challenge Manufacturers’ title for Acura.

                A slew of Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros dominate the 2012 World Challenge GTS entry list, but the diverse category also sees Acura up against the BMW M3, Nissan 370Z, Mitsubishi Evo, Audi TT, Porsche Cayman S and 996, plus a pair of factory-backed turbocharged Kia Optimas.

                "In order to improve the competitiveness of the TSX in World Challenge, we have moved forward with switching RealTime from the four-cylinder to the V6,” said Lee Niffenegger, Senior Engineer at Honda Performance Development. “Making the switch to the top trim level of our TSX engine line-up will enable RealTime to continue its record-setting performance in the Series, while further establishing this Acura model as one of the most successful in World Challenge history.”

                In addition to recording nine Manufacturers’ Championships for Acura, RealTime owner and driver Cunningham holds Series records for most wins (41), poles (44), top-three finishes (104), top-five finishes (141) and top-10 finishes (176).

                “Acura’s attributes of superior handling and unparalleled reliability have been the cornerstone of RealTime’s success in World Challenge,” Cunningham said. “We’re all eager to see how the new V6 engines perform against the competition.

                “I’m also looking forward to putting the No. 42 back on the side of my racecar – it’s brought me good luck over the years and more than my share of championships.”

                For the third year in a row, Cunningham will team with Esayian. Driving the No. 34 RealTime Acura TSX, the nine-year World Challenge veteran is looking to expand his record of 89 starts, one win, 18 top-five finishes and 48 top-10 finishes.

                “I can’t wait to do the first standing start with Acura’s V6 engine,” Esayian said. “Last year our TSX’s strong qualifying efforts were often overshadowed by the launch our V8 competitors were able to get on the start. We may still be down in cylinders compared to the bulk of the GTS grid, but we’ll make it up in handling and reliability.”

                The 2012 Pirelli World Challenge season will begin with a doubleheader at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 23 – 25. The races will air live on www.world-challengetv.com and on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus), Sunday, April 8, at 4:30 p.m. (ET). For more information on the Pirelli World Challenge Championships, visit www.world-challenge.com .

                The 2012 season for RealTime Racing is brought to you by Acura, HPD, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, BOSCH, Brembo and Total Auto Body.


                Geneva 2012: Honda’s European CEO Touts Future Earth Dreams Engines


                Honda already announced that its next generation of fuel-efficient powertrain technologies would be called Earth Dreams, and now Honda Europe CEO Manabu Nishimae has revealed more about the future of Earth Dreams tech. Speaking today at the Geneva Motor Show, Nishimae said that Honda will extend its Earth Dreams innovations across the company’s entire lineup — including the new Acura NSX supercar.
                “We aim to be number one in fuel economy in each sector within three years,” Nishimae said. “Through Earth Dreams Technology, Honda will continue to minimize our environmental footprint.”
                The first new Earth Dreams engine in our market will be the 2.4-liter inline-four in the 2013 Honda Accord. In Europe, the first new Earth Dreams engine will be a 1.6-liter diesel. It will launch in the new Euro-market Civic and is claimed to be the lightest diesel engine in its segment, and produces a hybrid-like 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer. It will be built in the U.K., starting by the end of this year.
                Nishimae confirmed that the new Acura NSX will be sold in Europe by 2015, although it will be badged as the Honda NSX. The car’s combination of a V-6 engine and three electric motors is meant to provide “supercar acceleration and outstanding efficiency.”Earth Dreams technologies will be incorporated on the NSX’s powertrain.
                In addition, Nishimae hinted that Honda may consider building a smaller hybrid or electric sports car. “[The Acura] NSX is the ultimate top-line sports model, could we develop a smaller one?” he asked rhetorically. He pointed to the EV-STER electric roadster concept, making its European debut in Geneva, as an example of how Honda could blend a fun driving experience with responsible performance.
                Finally, Nishimae said that Honda will launch a race car, based on the European Civic, in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. It will be powered by a turbocharged, direct-injection 1.6-liter engine, and makes its debut in October at Japan’s Suzuka Circuit.
                For more on the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our 2012 Geneva Motor Show homepage.

                Source: Honda


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                • Do special-edition fuel-efficient cars pay off in the real world? We bought some to find out.


                  Would you spend several hundred dollars on your next new car to get an option package that improves fuel economy? That’s the question posed by high-fuel-efficiency versions of the big-selling Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Honda Civic. Our surveys have shown that consumers would pay extra for savings, but can the cars deliver? To find out if these added-cost, fuel-sipper packages actually save money at the pump, we bought some cars to find out.

                  The Chevrolet Cruze Eco starts with the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Cruze. Eco-specific aerodynamic tweaks include special alloy wheels, a little trunk-lip spoiler, a dealer-installed front air dam, and a flap that automatically closes the lower grill air intake at highway speeds. Low-rolling-resistance tires complete the package. While the most fuel-efficient version of the Eco comes with a six-speed manual and a 42-mpg EPA highway rating, we opted for the more popular automatic that’s rated for three less. That’s one better than a 2012 non-Eco Cruze with the same powertrain.

                  The Eco differs in some equipment details from the 1LT model, so it’s hard to figure an exact price for the option. Compared to a Cruze 1LT automatic, the Eco stickers for $870 more.

                  The Ford Focus SFE requires starting with a Focus SE sedan. It is available only with the PowerShift automated-manual transmission. Like the Eco, there are aero tweaks including flat Knight Rider-esque hubcaps, a wee little trunk spoiler, and underbody cladding. Low-rolling-resistance tires are also part of the mix. (The Ford Fiesta is also available with a similar treatment.) EPA highway estimates are 40 mpg for the SFE, up 2 mpg from the regular Focus with this drivetrain. Getting the SFE option adds $495 to the sticker.

                  Honda has offered HF versions of the Civic for years, and the tradition carries over to the redesigned-for-2012 model. Forget about a manual transmission; the HF comes only as an automatic. Just like the other fuel-efficient models, the HF adds flat-faced alloy wheels, a decklid spoiler, and low-rolling-resistance tires. These mods are good for 1 mpg more EPA city and 2 mpg EPA highway, topping this group at 41 mpg highway. Compared to the automatic Civic LX, the HF adds $800 to the sticker—not too bad given that it includes alloy wheels that the LX lacks.

                  We’ll soon see how the fuel economy of these three fuel-economy specials compares to our previous tests of the “regular” versions. We’re curious if it makes sense to buy one of these special versions, or if you could just do as well by simply choosing a fuel-efficient model. Finally, we’ll see if the fuel-economy packages provoke compromises in braking or other performance measurements on our test track.


                  Honda Brings CR-V, NSX and EV-STER Concepts to the Geneva Motor Show


                  With the exception of the special edition Jazz Si, Honda didn't really have something new per se to share with us at the Geneva Motor Show as all three concept models displayed at its stand have already received their world premieres.

                  The most interesting prototype if of course the NSX, which is exhibited in Geneva with Honda instead of Acura badges. Seen for the first time in Detroit this past January, the study previews the design and technology direction for the second generation of the NSX.

                  Some of the highlights include the new hybrid all-wheel-drive system that utilizes a mid-mounted V6 engine and three electric motors.

                  Honda's second concept foreshadows the next CR-V for the European market that will make its official debut in production trim at the Paris Salon in the fall of 2012. No need to wait to see how it looks though as the 4th generation CR-V is already on sale in North America and Japan.

                  Finally, Honda is also showcasing the EV-STER study from the Tokyo Motor Show. This is a concept for an electric rear-wheel-drive two-seater convertible. According to reports, Honda has given the green light for the development of a production model, however, the Japanese automaker has yet to make an official announcement.

                  NSX => http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6FG7...layer_embedded

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                  • http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...319/1148/rss25

                    Japanese luxury brands reboot

                    Three decades after crashing the European luxury car party, Japan's top brands — Lexus, Acura and Infiniti — are stepping up their game.

                    Crossing swords with the veteran premium marques — BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar/Land Rover and Cadillac — has brought mixed results for the Japanese in North America. While Toyota's Lexus division quickly made solid inroads into the premium market segment from its start in 1989, Honda's Acura offshoot and Nissan's Infiniti nameplate have found the going much tougher. Now all three Japanese brands are revising their strategies and launching a flood of new models.

                    For U.S. consumers emboldened by the recovering economy and looking to step up to a premium segment car or crossover, the result is a forthcoming host of fresh alternatives to the traditional European offerings.

                    What's more, the Japanese brands — most notably Lexus — realize that simply offering stellar vehicle quality and refinement, plus an outstanding dealer experience, are not enough to sway today's customers.

                    So in the case of Lexus, the arrival this summer of the new generation GS midsized sedan signals a much more aggressive approach to design and vehicle dynamics. The move comes as some observers feel that Lexus is in danger of being written off as the next Buick, ironically just as Buick is in the process of becoming relevant again.

                    "This is a major change for the brand moving to more dramatic driving characteristics and exciting styling," says Brian Smith, Lexus vice president of marketing.

                    Underscoring Smith's point at the recent Chicago auto show, the brand displayed an F Sport concept version of the GS with a wild body kit, plus no fewer than four of its $375,000, 522-horsepower LFA supercars.

                    A drive in the new GS supports Lexus claims that this model is now much more competitive with BMW's standard-setting Five Series in terms of engaging handling and performance characteristics.

                    Going forward, Smith promises Lexus will spread the GS's new-found design and performance gusto across all its models.

                    Ironically, tame styling was not one of the problems undermining the progress of Acura. In fact, the opposite was true. For many, the overly aggressive grille design found on recent Acura models was perceived as a major handicap to showroom sales.

                    Now, Acura is aiming to reboot its image with a series of new models that take a more measured approach to design while maintaining a focus on performance.

                    Coming to U.S. showrooms this spring are the all new ILX small sedan and new generation RDX midsized crossover. Using modified elements of the Honda Civic (including a hybrid version), the ILX aims for buyers new to the luxury market and Acura, while the five-passenger RDX plays in the heart of the mid-size crossover segment. The RDX drops its predecessor's four-cylinder engine in favor of a 3.5-liter V-6 that kicks out 273 hp (up by 33 hp).

                    High-performance enthusiasts, however, will have to wait a lot longer to taste Acura's most enticing newcomer, the next-generation NSX sports coupe. The successor to Honda's original 1990 NSX supercar was revealed in concept form at the Detroit show but Acura says it will take three years to bring it to market.

                    Over at Infiniti, there are rumors of an NSX-rivaling supercar in the works to spice up the brand's appeal in showrooms.

                    In the meantime, the brand is counting on the spring launch of the new JX seven-passenger crossover, starting at $41,400, to boost its U.S. sales.

                    This week also saw Infiniti unveil an exciting hybrid electric sports car concept, dubbed Emerg-E, at the Geneva auto show.

                    With this fresh onslaught from the Japanese brands, luxury car buyers from top to bottom are in for an exciting ride.



                    Honda Accord Euro and Odyssey's Sales Streak

                    TULLAMARINE, AUSTRALIA – March 8, 2012: The Honda Accord Euro and Odyssey have continued to dominate private sales in their segments in February.

                    The Accord Euro has taken the lead in private sales in its segment for the third consecutive month.

                    In December, the Euro led with a 28 percent market share and 467 sales, then again topped private sales in January with a 26.1 percent market share and 561 sales.

                    In February, the Euro soared ahead of its competitors. Over one in three private medium car buyers purchased an Accord Euro, taking a 35.5 percent market share with 896 sales.

                    The multi-award winning Honda Odyssey also continued its strong start to the year, again leading the private sales race in its segment.

                    With a leading market-share in January, Drive’s Car of the Year Best People Mover dominated the segment in February, accounting for almost half of these new car buyers. There were 150 private sales, resulting in a 45.3 percent market share.

                    Honda Australia Director and General Manager Sales and Marketing, Mr. Stephen Collins, said; “These sales figures are a positive start to a year of rebuilding and growth for Honda. The Accord Euro has been leading private sales in its segment since late last year and continues to gain market share. In overall sales for its segment, it ran a close second, along with the Honda Odyssey.

                    “Honda is firmly focused on delivering what Australian customers want in their cars – value for money, practical technology and strong resale value,” Mr. Collins said.

                    Honda is the world’s biggest engine manufacturer, a leader in automotive research and development and consistently rated a top performer in customer satisfaction. There are more than 400,000 Hondas on the road in Australia and millions of happy customers worldwide.



                    Honda wants dealers to have natural gas fuel stations

                    Honda, the only automaker selling compressed natural gas-powered cars in the U.S., wants some of its dealers to also install fueling station pumps to sell CNG.

                    Honda has said it wants to double sales of its Civic natural gas sedans this year to 4,000, and greater CNG acceptance is going to require more public fueling stations, Steve Center, U.S. vice president for environmental business development, said in an interview.

                    Honda is negotiating with state regulators in California, the biggest U.S. market for CNG vehicles and the one with the most public fueling stations, seeking to have additional pumps placed at two or more Honda dealerships this year, Center said.

                    "If the dealer had a fueling station, it would really reduce some of that concern for the customer," Center said at Honda's U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif. "It's not our place to create infrastructure, but it's a chicken-and-egg situation, and we're going to have to nurse that egg along."

                    Honda's push to market its Indiana-built Civics powered by CNG -- a domestically sourced fuel that's cheaper than gasoline and has lower emissions -- comes as Detroit rivals Gerneral Motors and Chrysler announced this week that they will start selling bi-fuel pickups that run on CNG and gasoline.



                    Acura 25th anniversary => Acura: The birth of a Legend

                    The buzz at the Montreal Auto Show’s press day 25 years ago in January was all about the arrival in Canada of a just-launched Japanese luxury brand that had already created a Legend.
                    Up to that time Canadians contemplating a luxury car were limited to offerings from one of the long-established North American car makers or the handful of traditional European marques, but that changed as 1987 dawned and Acura unfurled its banner at Montreal’s annual auto extravaganza to become the first Japanese up-market brand sold here.

                    Acura bravely took its place among 23 car companies from 15 countries displaying some 400 vehicles at the Place Bonaventure venue. But parent Honda was concerned about setting its new brand apart in potential buyers’ minds and located the Acura stand on the show’s lower level well away from its own main-floor exhibit.
                    Acura didn’t need much space anyway as it only had two models to offer, the mid-size “executive luxury” Legend sedan at $26,000-$30,000 and the compact and sporty $13,000-$17,000 Integra. But it drew plenty of attention nevertheless.
                    Canadian car buyers would have to wait until March to actually get behind the wheel of an Acura, purchased from one of the 20 dealers established across the country by Acura Canada execs bullish about the new brand – which had launched a year earlier in the United States. According to a report I wrote on the show, they foresaw the dealer network expanding to 100 by 1990.
                    It didn’t quite unfold that well, in part because Acura soon faced additional home-grown rivalry with the arrival of Toyota’s Lexus and Nissan’s Infiniti divisions. But Acura did in short order establish itself as a distinct and successful brand and carve out a strong share of the North American luxury market, outselling Mercedes, BMW and Lexus by 1990 and seeing sales reach almost 200,000 in 2005. Here in Canada, it has sold 400,000 vehicles in the past 2-1/2 decades and currently has 50 dealers.
                    Setting up a separate luxury division was a bold move in the late 1980s when Japanese cars were still associated in most Canadians’ minds with the subcompacts that had led the way for a couple of decades.
                    Until the $26,000-starting-price Legend sedan’s arrival, the most expensive Japanese sedan in Canada was Toyota’s 1987 Cressida at $25,968, with the $22,987 Nissan Maxima not far behind. Honda’s priciest offering that year was its top-of-the-line Accord at $16,945. Among rival imports from Europe, an entry-level BMW 3-Series started at $25,825, an Audi 4000S at $24,975 and the cheapest Mercedes-Benz, a 190D, at $38,900, although things like Saabs, Volvos and Peugeots could be acquired for less than $20,000.
                    But a generation of import buyers brought up on Japanese brands were deemed ready to step up and, in Acura’s case, that was to the Legend, which my 1987 show story described as a “handsome contemporary-styled sedan powered by a potent 151-hp, 2.5-litre 24-valve V-6.” The three- and five-door, 113-hp, 1.6- litre-engined Integras would serve as a supporting cast.
                    The roots of the Legend were entangled in a joint project with Britain’s Austin Rover Group that resulted in cars being produced in Britain and sold as the Honda Legend and Rover 800 (the latter marketed for a period as the Stirling in North America).
                    The Legend wasn’t revolutionary but did incorporate the latest and best technology. Its stiff monocoque structure was wrapped in aerodynamic bodywork – the coefficient of drag was 0.32. The overall shape was angular with pronounced bumpers, the front with a neat little air dam underneath, and flush headlamps. I complained at the time it looked too conservative.
                    It was 4,810 mm long, which is 120 mm shorter than the current Acura TL, and weighed in at just 1,396 kg, compared to today’s fully-laden TL at 1,820 kg.
                    The interior had, to quote myself, “ a European, no-frills-functional” rather than luxurious look, certainly by today’s standards, with large round analogue gauges, a thick-ish rimmed and tilt-able four-spoke wheel, front seats upholstered in moquette cloth and full carpeting. Features included an electric sunroof, cruise control, AM/FM radio with cassette player, remote trunk and fuel filler releases, air conditioning and, well, not much more.
                    The motor was a 2.5-litre, single-overhead-cam V-6 rated at 151 hp at 5,800 rpm and 154 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. This may not sound like much, but it was a lot more than the 121hp the BMW 325’s 2.7-litre inline-six was making, hence my “potent” comment. Some might recall that Honda was winning Formula One championships in this period.
                    The Legend came with a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission; with the former, acceleration to 100 km/h required about eight seconds and top speed was 216 km/h. Fuel economy was rated at 12.6 litres/100 km city and 9.1 highway (the current 3.5-litre, 280-hp TL’s ratings are 10.4 city/6.8 highway).
                    Suspension was by double-wishbones up front with trailing links and struts in the rear, and it came with 205/60R15 tires on alloy wheels pointed by speed-sensitive steering and stopped by disc brakes all round.
                    The original Legend was good enough to make Car & Driver magazine’s top 10 list for three years in a row and was joined later in 1987 by the considerably pricier, prettier and quicker coupe with 2.7-litre, 161-hp engine (that found its way into the sedan in 1988). The first generation was produced until 1990.
                    The third generation arrived in 1996 with the Legend name missing from the deck lid, replaced by the RL badge that has never seemed to resonate in quite the same way.
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                    • Honda Civic: Solid ninth generation arrives in NZ


                      Honda's ultimate goal, says New Zealand managing director Graeme Seymour, is to be the No1 company in mobility.

                      "Imagine, for example, Honda delivering mobility to paraplegics," he said. One of the reasons Honda built robots like Asimo, Seymour said, was to study the balance of objects, the tipping point.

                      "It takes about 200 muscles for humans to walk. Once you understand that, isolate the role of each muscle, you get a better appreciation of engineering.

                      "That is one of the benefits of miniaturisation. It's about learning to control balance, making fine adjustments.

                      "Think of a car going in one direction. The steering wheel might be pointing there, but is that the exact intended line? It's all about balance and fine adjustments."

                      Honda has made a number of fine adjustments to its ninth-generation Civic, launched this week on a mix of roads through Auckland and the Waikato.

                      Among them are more interior space, improved fuel economy, a stronger body, electric power steering, slick Bluetooth link ... compulsory enhancements these days.

                      The new Japan-built sedan is a welcome addition to a thin fleet. Honda NZ has been without Civic since June last year, a supply after-effect of the March earthquake in Japan. "The earthquake and the floods in Thailand delayed many products," said Seymour.

                      The Civic is the first of two vital vehicles this year. It will be followed in July by the CR-V crossover, offering a choice of both front-drive and all-wheel-drive and either 2-litre or 2.4-litre engines.

                      Four Civic variants are available, all badged "S". The 1.8-litre i-VTEC five-speed manual $32,900, 1.8-litre five-speed automatic $34,900, 2-litre five-speed automatic $38,500 and 1.5-litre hybrid $43,500.

                      The 1.8-litre unit is an update on the outgoing model's Euro4 compliant engine. It delivers 104kW at 6500rpm and 174Nm at 4300rpm with claimed fuel use for the manual of 6.8 litres/100km and 6.7 litres/100km for the automatic. The previous model was rated at 7.2 litres/100km.

                      The 2-litre i-VTEC engine produces 114kW at 6500rpm and 190Nm at 4300rpm. Honda claims town-and-around fuel use of 7.5 litres/100km, against 8.2 litres/100km for the old model.

                      The Hybrid gets a 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine mated to an upgraded 17kW electric motor. The previous hybrid Civis ran a 1.3-litre engine.

                      The Civic's Integrated Motor Assist mild hybrid system uses both engine power and regenerative braking technology to recharge the new lithium-ion battery pack, which replaces the cheaper nickel-metal hydride pack used in the old model.

                      The powertrain is matched with a CVT automatic transmission, providing claimed fuel use of 4.4 litres/100km and a CO2 emissions rating of 104g/km.

                      The combined output of the engine and motor is 82kW/172Nm - slightly down on power from the previous model but up on torque.

                      In a nutshell, the new Civic range offers more of the same conservative practicality. Cabin ergonomics are first-class, so is the instrument display and overall refinement.

                      Ride and handling was pretty good too. This is the first Civic to get electric power steering. Like most such systems it is quick and direct but lacks communication with the road. This was obvious even on the best surfaces.

                      The Civic's thrifty engines shout a lot under throttle. Things might change under Honda's Earth Dreams banner revealed this week at Geneva.


                      The case of the overloaded Honda


                      Wheels: J.D. of Cincinnati 
writes by e-mail:

                      Today I drove to lunch with four other co-workers in my Honda CRV. I had three normal size adults, probably about 550 lbs. in the back seat. I noticed a severe rubbing/scraping sound on turns with them back there. Sounded awful, and could feel drag on the turn. But without them back there, no noise, no problem. So what are your thoughts? It sat out in the ice, so I thought it was still ice, but I had already driven it 50+ miles after everything had thawed out and no visible ice anywhere, plus it was 
50 degrees. And I even checked the rear wheel well for obstructions and saw nothing. Thoughts?

                      Halderman: I think the noise you were hearing was the tire rubbing in the wheel well. With five adults in a small sport utility vehicle, it is likely that you exceeded the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the vehicle. Look at the tire inflation pressure placard on or near the driver’s door. There you will see the vehicle capacity including passengers and luggage. The amount of weight that a vehicle can carry is calculated by the vehicle manufacturer that for each passenger, which 
is a place with its own safety 
belt, times 150 pounds. If there are five seat belt positions 
then 5 times 150 pounds is 750 pounds. I looked up the CRV for the Honda CRV and it lists the passenger and luggage capacity to be 850 pounds, which means that it can carry five 150 pound passengers plus 100 pounds of luggage. Of course, most adults weigh more than 150 pounds each, and the passengers may include children, making the average lower. With 550 pounds just in the back seat plus the driver and front seat passenger, I am sure that the vehicle was overloaded. Thank goodness you did not drive very far because a tire failure could have resulted. The rear springs could also “take a set” and not restore the vehicle to its original height.

                      James D. Halderman is an ASE-certified master technician, a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the author of 12 textbooks. Submit questions to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jameshalderman, or write him in care of: Wheels, Marketing Publications Department, Dayton Daily News, 1611 S. Main St., Dayton OH 45409.


                      Cramped Civic driver needs a seat treat


                      We enjoy your column in the Globe and your show on CTV. I’m hoping I can leverage Vaughan’s focus on value and Cato’s love of driving. I’m a 47-year-old guy driving a Honda Civic. Nice car, but really, really uncomfortable seats. I’m six-foot-one with long legs and 220 pounds. Can you recommend which car or SUV in the mid-size class is going to offer the most comfortable seats for a long journey? I was about to buy a set of Recaros, but my wife feels that a new purchase is the way to go. – Tim in Toronto

                      Vaughan: Timmy, you’ve nailed it. Comfortable seats are a totally important criterion in vehicle selection. I’m always going on about it.

                      But shame on you for buying that Civic in the first place, if you find the seats so bad. This time, no matter what we suggest, spend some time in the seats, especially the driver’s seat. Your rear end will give you the answer.

                      Cato: The answer isn’t a new Recaro, not if you’re a budget-minded Civic driver. Now, if you were to go Recaro, I’d suggest the Ergomed. Fantastic, but here’s the rub: one seat will set you back about three grand.

                      Three Gs amounts to 20 per cent of what you’ll pay for a whole new Civic, the base model. Buy a pair and you're 40 per cent of the way to a whole new Honda.

                      So where do you go? Start with a Volkswagen Golf. Superb, superb seats. Autobahn-ready.

                      Vaughan: Absolutely right. For years now, VeeDub has done great seats and great interiors. There are certainly more expensive seats in fancier cars, but none in my opinion any more comfortable. Plant yourself in one to see if you agree.

                      The Civic is a great driving little car, but the Golf drives better, plus the great seats. Your wife was right; get a new car.

                      Cato: Except Timbo wants an SUV. That would mean a VW Tiguan, which starts at $27,875 for the front-drive version. Very good seats.

                      2012 VW Tiguan

                      Vaughan: The Tiguan is a terrific little SUV if you want to go that way. But Tim, you were asking about a “mid-size” SUV. You like Hondas, and if that’s what you want, have a look at the Pilot ($34,820 base). But you might find it way too big after the Civic.

                      If you go a size smaller, Honda does have the CR-V ($25,990 base) and it has terrific seats. I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort level on a recent test drive.

                      Another small car with terrific seats is the Chevy Sonic. After the horrible Cavaliers that GM once sold for 23 straight years – with a wooden bench for a seat – the Sonic is a refined piece of engineering with Golf-like driving character and great seats.

                      Cato: What? The Sonic starts at $14,495. This takes Tim back to his Civic. Tim won’t find the love he wants in that Sonic, any more than he did the Civic.

                      And Vaughan, you don’t weight 220 and you’re most certainly not six-foot-one. Wrong dimensions. You don’t live in Tim’s big world.

                      Vaughan: Agreed. You’re the wide body here, so I will defer to your broader tastes.

                      Cato: And you’ve overlooked the fact Tim is looking for a mid-size car or more likely an SUV. If it’s a mid-size car, then I’d suggest a Volvo, pretty much any Volvo. A base Volvo S60 isn’t cheap, though: $38,300 base.

                      2012 Volvo S60

                      Timbo, the seats in the S60 are handsome and they fit almost any body type and do so almost perfectly. Not only that, Volvo has been an industry leader in creating seats with outstanding whiplash protection. Drive a car, save a neck.

                      Vaughan: Not a bad choice in the bunch, but for the money I’d say the Golf’s for you, Tim.

                      Cato: Hang on. I have yet another suggestion: the Ford Flex ($29,999 base).

                      2012 Ford Flex

                      Vaughan: With the hearse-like styling?

                      Cato: And the brilliant seats. All around, I’d say the Flex has the best seats of any mid-size SUV or crossover listing for less than, say, $50,000. Maybe more.

                      Vaughan: He’ll be comfortable for an eternity in them? How appropriate, given how the Flex looks.

                      Cato: Look, Timmer, Ford used to own Volvo, thus it’s no surprise to me that the seats in the Flex – and its Lincoln cousin, the MKT – feel a lot like the wonderful, supportive buckets in the Volvo S80.

                      Like the S80, the seats in the Flex – and MKT – have wide, well-shaped cushions. You want long-distance support? You got it. Plus, the Flex and MKT have active headrests to protect your neck in a rear-ender.

                      Vaughan: Timmy, here’s where we bury this: I think the Tiguan is your best bet. Terrific seats and big enough for a man of your stature.

                      Cato: I say Volvo S60 for a mid-size car and the Ford Flex if it’s a mid-size crossover SUV.

                      Vaughan: No matter what, Timmy, this is one decision you’ll want to sit on.

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                      • Wave Of The Future? Natural Gas-Powered Cars Gaining In Popularity


                        NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With gasoline prices continuing to rise, many are looking at alternatives like hybrids or electric cars. But there’s a third fuel option rapidly gaining in popularity.

                        And, as CBS 2’s Don Dahler reports, it’s all-American.

                        On Monday, Dahler got a look at what appeared to be a regular Honda Civic, but the truth was that particular vehicle was running on a fuel that costs half as much as gasoline and puts out a fraction of the air pollutants: compressed natural gas, or CNG.

                        “Right now the technology exists with the CNG car to get a more fuel efficient vehicle and a cleaner vehicle with an abundant supply of fuel right here in the USA,” said Brian Benstock, the general manager of Paragon Honda in Woodside, Queens.

                        Honda is currently the only major car maker producing new CNG vehicles for the general public in the U.S. It’s doubling production this year due to demand, and other car makers are expected to roll CNG cars out within a year.

                        The benefits of CNG vehicles are much cheaper fuel that causes less damage to the engine, which lowers maintenance costs, extremely low emissions, and a variety of proposed and existing tax credits.

                        The cons: the CNG Honda costs about $5,000 more than the regular one, filling stations are hard to find (there are only about a dozen in the New York area), you won’t get quite the range as a gasoline car (between 200 and 250 miles), and the compressed gas tank takes up part of the trunk space.
                        Honda Civic CNG

                        Experts say compressed natural gas filling stations will begin to pop up all over the Tri-State Area over the next few years as the popularity of Honda's car increases. (Photo: CBS 2)

                        Right now, CNG cars have to use a special fueling station that fleets use, but as their popularity increases, natural gas pumps will start to appear at gasoline stations and convenience stores.

                        If you don’t live close to a refueling station, you can have a fueling station put in your home, if you have natural gas going into your house.

                        But whereas filling your car at a station takes a few minutes, using a home system takes about eight hours, because the gas is a lot less pressurized.

                        More and more companies and governments are converting their fleets to natural gas. The fuel savings for converting a school bus will pay for the $50,000 conversion within 18 months.

                        Converting your car is probably still too expensive to make sense, about $15,000, but Michael Misseri of Clean Vehicle Solutions in East Brunswick, N.J., said that will change when demand increases.

                        “Once enough stations are up then just anybody can go out and have their car converted,” Misseri said.

                        So in the short term, it may make more sense to look at the CNG cars rolling out over the next few years that are already running on the all-American fuel.

                        There are bills before Congress which would give federal tax credits for natural gas vehicles, and President Barack Obama has made them a major focus of his energy policy.

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                        • http://www.vaildaily.com/article/201...ntProfile=1062

                          ‘Green Car' convoy rolls through Vail

                          VAIL — Here's the good news: You can buy, right now, a five-passenger sport utility vehicle with a 7,700-pound tow rating that gets more than 25 miles per gallon on the highway. The bad news? It costs $50,000.

                          The SUV in question is the Volkswagen Toureg with a turbo-diesel V6 engine under the hood. The big Vee-Dub was part of a three-day rolling exhibit of “green cars” put on by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. The convoy — which had the Toureg, a mid-sized VW Jetta diesel, the most fuel-efficient version of Ford Focus compact and a Honda Odyssey minivan — drove from Denver to Montrose along mountain roads, then from Montrose to Grand Junction, then back toward Denver along Interstate 70.

                          The group — Tim Jackson of the dealers' group, along with automotive journalists Dan Buxbaum, Mike Cotsworth and Don Bain — made a brief stop at the Vail Golf Club Monday, with the drivers happy to talk about their real-world experiences with the cars.

                          All four were impressed with the diesel-powered cars — “It goes uphill like a goat and goes downhill like a slot car,” Bain said of the Jetta. But the gas-powered cars made an impression, too.

                          The Ford, which has a government fuel economy rating of 40 miles per gallon on the highway, was returning real-world mileage in the high 30s. That's pretty good, when you factor in the elevation and the fact that the group wasn't exactly following Shell Fuel Economy Challenge protocols about gentle driving.

                          “We filled up in Montrose, and we got all the way to Parachute before the gas gauge budged off full,” Buxman said.

                          But the big Honda might have had the most tricks up its sleeve. The seven-passenger minivan, which uses engine-management technology that will shut down up to three of the engine's six cylinders in steady-state driving, was delivering real-world fuel economy of almost 28 miles per gallon.

                          The idea of the caravan was demonstrating to consumers that decent-to-outstanding fuel economy is possible in a range of vehicles.

                          The Honda was also sporting new vinyl graphics touting the Clear the Air Foundation, an effort by the dealers' group to get older, dirtier cars off the road. Jackson said modern cars are 99 percent cleaner than cars made even 25 years ago. And last year, the foundation took about 170 cars off the road.

                          “Every old car we take out of service is like taking 100 newer cars out of service,” Jackson said. “And that's taking ozone and other pollutants out of the air.”


                          Honda plots rebound of Civic


                          The Honda Civic, stung by critical reviews and tight U.S. supply in 2011, has outsold rival small cars and the company has enough “ammunition” to hold the spot, an executive said.

                          U.S. sales of Civic sedans and coupes rose 45 percent to 48,970 in the year’s first two months, ahead of Toyota’s Corolla, a perennial challenger, and General Motors’ Chevrolet Cruze, which is assembled in Lordstown in Northeast Ohio.

                          After supply disruptions last year, Honda now has enough North American capacity to make Civic the top-selling compact, even if that isn’t a target, said Tetsuo Iwamura, chief operating officer for North America.

                          “When competitors shoot at the Civic, we’ll have enough ammunition to shoot back,” Iwamura said in an interview Monday at Honda’s U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif. “We don’t talk about No. 1 as a goal. Always we think about having very good acceptance and high customer satisfaction.”

                          The car that’s been the core of Honda’s U.S. business since 1973 hasn’t led compact sales since 2002. The Civic trailed both the Corolla and the Cruze last year, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

                          A year after an earthquake and tsunami damaged Tokyo-based Honda’s parts supply base and engineering center in Japan, the carmaker has ratcheted up North American output of the model 69 percent to regain sales in the U.S., its biggest source of revenue.

                          Honda made 84,678 Civics at plants in Canada and Indiana in the first months of the year, up from 50,056 in the same period a year ago. Production of all Honda and Acura cars and light trucks in North America jumped 36 percent to a record 301,564, according to the company.

                          Civic sales fell 15 percent last year to 221,235, the lowest since 1992. Along with parts-related production delays, the 2012 Civic LX sedan failed to receive the “recommended” status its predecessors had from Consumer Reports last August. The magazine faulted the car for what it said was a decline in interior quality, a choppy ride and road noise.

                          Higher U.S. gasoline prices are benefiting the Civic, and should buoy demand for at least another four months, said Jesse Toprak, industry analyst for TrueCar.com.

                          “It’s got a pretty good chance of being No. 1 this year, owing to the availability and the price point,” Toprak said.

                          The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has increased 16 percent this year to $3.81 as of March 12, according to AAA, the largest U.S. motorist group. The Civic coupe has a starting price of $15,605 while the sedan’s price starts at $15,805, according to researcher Edmunds.com.

                          The outlook for Civic beyond July, when fuel prices could ease, will depend on updates of the car Honda plans to make to address some criticisms and competing models including Hyundai Motor Co.’s Elantra, Toprak said.

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                          • http://jalopnik.com/5893022/how-hond...out-their-cars

                            How Honda Pays Bloggers To Write About Their Cars

                            The new Honda Civic is so boring you'd probably have to pay me to write something positive about it, which is exactly what Honda attempted to do via a third-party European company. Welcome back to the world of pay-for-post blogging where automakers desperately try to generate positive social media buzz — and fail.

                            I first received an email from Russell Thomas in January saying there was "a major car brand" that was willing to fork over cash to Jalopnik to write about their car. While my journalistic pride means I have no intention of actually accepting a check in a money-for-coverage scheme, my journalistic curiosity led me to write him back and and let him know I was interested.

                            I was informed by Thomas that all I'd have to do is sign up as a "publisher" on the website of eBuzzing, the company he works for, in order to access campaigns. I did, and, after filling out their form telling them my primary language and general traffic stats, I was "validated" and assigned my first story.

                            Sadly, the first story was not the one originally promised, but a chance to earn £200.00 (approximately $315) to write about Red Bull's experience in the Dakar 2012 Rally. Since I wasn't interested in Red Bull I passed, although we did end up writing a few articles on the event — they were mostly centered around Robby Gordon, who is sponsored by a different energy drink company.

                            I continued to wait for a few weeks wondering if, perhaps, someone at eBuzzing figured out our site would never allow this to happen and quietly pulled the plug. It wasn't until this week that Russell contacted me again to let me know that he'd be able to pay £50 (a paltry $78) to post a video from Honda about their new Civic (technically, the European version, which I like). He even provided me with text:

                            Apologies for the brevity, but here is the copy we were supplied with:

                            If we never venture into the unknown how do we get anywhere new? When Honda engineers set about designing the new Civic, they ventured into the unknown. They pushed boundaries. They took every path along the way. And in doing so, they created something amazing. Exploring is part of the fun. That's why we took a 360º camera off the beaten path. Go on, take a leap. Use your cursor to explore the environments and click on the arrow to venture forward. You'll find things you can't imagine.

                            Please let me know when you've published by sending me the URL.

                            This time around, it's payment by invoice, so please send me an invoice for the £50 as soon as you have a chance and we'll pay it on our next pay-day (these are the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month).

                            Now that I knew what the video was I'd be able to see if anyone had taken up Honda on their offer.

                            A search revealed a few smaller websites already posted this video and similar videos from Honda using the same eBuzzing player. Some sites, like Tech Patio, did mention this was a "Sponsored Post" in small text at the bottom of their entry.

                            This is technically a requirement of their Code of Conduct, which is something Russell failed to mention to me in our conversations. Perhaps this explains why sites like Parent Wheels neglected to mention it. Ironically, that site bills itself as putting forth "Real Opinions" for family motorists.

                            Honda, sadly, isn't the only one trying to accomplish some social media "buzz" with a little post-ola. Both Jeep and Peugeot are listed with campaigns, though entirely for Europe, which makes sense since eBuzzing is a European company.

                            Formerly the "Wikio Group," eBuzzing's portfolio comes from a mixture of European web properties including portal Overblog.

                            How Honda Pays Bloggers To Write About Their CarsAccording to a TechCrunch post from August, the company made $15 million in 2010 with a staff of just over 160 across Europe. They also took on $25 million to change their name from the Wikio Group to eBuzzing last year.

                            They have numerous ad campaigns running at this moment from major brands like Microsoft, Addidas, Lacoste, Chico, Sprite and many others. Some pay by the view (around $0.05 to $0.13 per) or by the post (as much as $104 for an Air France video).

                            Honda appears to be an active client with multiple campaigns running in three different countries based around these same promotional videos.

                            View the gallery
                            The interest eBuzzing has in Jalopnik might be because of our very large European audience, as they don't list America as a target for their advertising.

                            In America, you don't have to directly pay for content anyways, as Chrysler so inexpertly demonstrated last week. Numerous contests allow automakers to skirt paying bloggers directly by offering them trips and goodies, either for themselves or their readers.

                            A direct payment from car companies seemed unlikely, even to my jaded expectations, until I got the email from Russell.

                            If there's any consolation in this post-ola scheme is that Ebuzzing doesn't seem particularly good at this trust-gaming exercise with regards to English audiences (the French might be an exception).

                            Most of the sites I tracked using this specific campaign were relatively small and around half appeared to mention somewhere that it was a sponsored post.

                            That Honda would want to pay people to talk about the Civic wasn't surprising given the almost universal loathing for the American version, but the European version doesn't have the same problems.

                            A spokesperson for American Honda said they don't work with eBuzzing but can't speak for their European arm.

                            Statement From American Honda
                            I can only speak for American Honda. We do not do any business with eBuzzing nor do we pay for coverage in the U.S. Our European operations are separate from our U.S. operations including promotion for the Civic—-which, as you know, is a completely different car than is sold in Europe.

                            Technically, if I pasted the video from Honda in this post I'd still be able to invoice the $78 since Ebuzzing states that they value authenticity and honesty.

                            "Be yourself! Your style, your tone, your words and your editorial angle are the basis of your identity and success within your community. No ad campaign justifies betraying who you are."



                            If The New Honda Civic Is So Bad And New Competition Is Better, WHY Is It Seliing So Well?


                            Even with some unfavorable reviews for the current Civic, the car continues to attract the buyers competitors seek, said Alexander Edwards, president of the automotive division of Strategic Vision Inc.

                            , a San Diego-based consumer-research firm.

                            Within the small-car segment, Civic is “still grabbing a younger, somewhat wealthier crowd,” Edwards said. The median age of its buyers is 45, compared with a segment average of between 49 and 50 years old, he said.

                            Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Jetta draws a younger customer, with a median age of 41, because of its cheaper base price and Hyundai’s Elantra matches Civic with a median buyer age of 45, said Edwards, whose firm surveys 300,000 people a year for its automotive studies. Jetta’s starting price is $15,515, according to Edmunds.

                            Consumer reports a huge fan of Honda in the past was even down on the car:

                            Honda Motor Co.’s newest version of the Civic, a model that’s been a foundation of the automaker’s U.S. sales for decades, flopped in tests by Consumer Reports, failing to win the magazine’s coveted “Recommended” status.

                            => http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-0...ne-prices.html

                            Honda Says Civic Has ‘Ammunition’ to Hang On as Top Compact Car

                            Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s Civic, stung by critical reviews and tight U.S. supply in 2011, has outsold rival small cars and the company has enough “ammunition” to hold the spot, an executive said.
                            U.S. sales of Civic sedans and coupes rose 45 percent to 48,970 in the year’s first two months, ahead of Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Corolla, a perennial challenger, and General Motors Co. (GM)’s Cruze. After supply disruptions last year, Honda now has enough North American capacity to make Civic the top-selling compact, even if that isn’t a target, said Tetsuo Iwamura, chief operating officer for North America.

                            “When competitors shoot at the Civic, we’ll have enough ammunition to shoot back,” Iwamura said in an interview this week at Honda’s U.S. headquarters in Torrance, California. “We don’t talk about No. 1 as a goal. Always we think about having very good acceptance and high customer satisfaction.”
                            The car that’s been the core of Honda’s U.S. business since 1973 hasn’t led compact sales since 2002. Civic trailed both Corolla and Cruze last year, according to Autodata Corp., a Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey researcher. A year after an earthquake and tsunami damaged Tokyo-based Honda’s parts supply base and engineering center in Japan, the carmaker has ratcheted up North American output of the model 69 percent to regain sales in the U.S., its biggest source of revenue.
                            Honda has gained 32 percent in Tokyo trading this year, recovering most of the drop last year, when the stock fell 27 percent. It last closed at 3,100 yen.
                            Output Increased

                            Honda made 84,678 Civics at plants in Canada and Indiana in the first months of the year, up from 50,056 in the same period a year ago. Production of all Honda and Acura cars and light trucks in North America jumped 36 percent to a record 301,564, according to the company.
                            Civic sales fell 15 percent last year to 221,235, the lowest since 1992. Along with parts-related production delays, the 2012 Civic LX sedan failed to receive the “recommended” status its predecessors had from Consumer Reports last August. The magazine faulted the car for a decline in interior quality, choppier ride and road noise.
                            Higher U.S. gasoline prices are benefiting Civic, and should buoy demand for at least another four months, said Jesse Toprak, industry analyst for TrueCar.com.
                            “It’s got a pretty good chance of being No. 1 this year, owing to the availability and the price point,” said Toprak, who is based in Santa Monica, California. “They are a bit lucky that the fuel prices are rising now as Civic continues to be viewed generally as more gas-efficient, and a safe choice.”
                            Fuel Price

                            The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has increased 16 percent this year to $3.81 as of March 12, according to AAA, the largest U.S. motorist group. The Civic coupe has a starting price of $15,605 while the sedan’s price starts at $15,805, according to researcher Edmunds.com.
                            The outlook for Civic beyond July, when fuel prices may ease, will depend on updates of the car Honda plans to make to address some criticisms and competing models including Hyundai Motor Co. (005380)’s Elantra, Toprak said.
                            “Hyundai, in particular, has shown that it has the ability to replicate the kind of success seen with Honda and Toyota a generation ago,” he said.
                            Even with some unfavorable reviews for the current Civic, the car continues to attract the buyers competitors seek, said Alexander Edwards, president of the automotive division of Strategic Vision Inc., a San Diego-based consumer-research firm.
                            How Competitors Fare

                            Within the small-car segment, Civic is “still grabbing a younger, somewhat wealthier crowd,” Edwards said. The median age of its buyers is 45, compared with a segment average of between 49 and 50 years old, he said.
                            Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Jetta draws a younger customer, with a median age of 41, because of its cheaper base price and Hyundai’s Elantra matches Civic with a median buyer age of 45, said Edwards, whose firm surveys 300,000 people a year for its automotive studies. Jetta’s starting price is $15,515, according to Edmunds.
                            The average Corolla buyer is 49, while the median age for customers of Ford Motor Co. (F)’s Focus is 53 and Chevrolet’s Cruze is 58, Edwards said.
                            GM’s data indicate that the average Cruze buyer is about 53, Jim Cain, a company spokesman, said in an interview.
                            Honda’s problems last year didn’t keep it from a top- ranking spot in terms of brand consideration, with 50 percent of people in the market for a new car saying they’d consider it, Edwards said, citing Strategic Vision data.
                            Inventory had a bigger impact on Civic sales last year than Consumer Reports’ review, said Iwamura, 60, who becomes Honda’s executive vice president on April 1 and will continue to lead North American operations.
                            “I accept their criticism very sincerely, but yet believe we’ll be able to make them once again a strong fan of the Civic,” he said.
                            Last edited by tokyodream; 15-03-12, 06:35.
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                            • Honda to build new factory and expand Indonesian output


                              Honda is looking to build another assembly plant in Indonesia in an effort to diversify its production as well as intensify its sales of small car models in the Asean region, a report says.

                              The new facility – expected to be up and running in 2014 – will sit on the grounds of the company’s existing factory located in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta. Despite the recent production half brought about by strikes, it looks like the company has decided that people are easier to handle than nature.

                              When the new facility arrives, it’ll double production lines at the site to two, and with planned upgrades to the existing line – which currently has an output capacity of 60,000 vehicles annually – the annual production capacity will be 180,000 units with both lines running.

                              The company says the expansion means it will be ramping up production of models made at the existing Bekasi plant, and these are the Jazz, the CR-V and the Freed MPV.

                              It’s also set to build models that haven’t been built in Indonesia, and candidates are the little Brio compact as well as the City, which is currently being brought in to the country from Thailand.

                              The automaker built around 49,000 vehicles in Indonesia in 2011, 11% less from the year before – the interruptions brought about by the flooding in Thailand forced Honda to cut output across the region. It is based on this experience that the company has taken the decision to split its Asean production, looking at turning Indonesia into a key site.


                              Honda Odyssey elicits no complaints from peanut gallery


                              While Chrysler may have invented the modern minivan segment, and arguably deserves a lot of credit for that vision, Honda has created its own niche in this family-vehicle segment with the Odyssey, a minivan that doesn't take a back seat to anyone.
                              Other than perhaps Honda's own Pilot crossover utility vehicle, there just might not be a better family hauler on the market than the Odyssey, something I can surely vouch for after taking an extended trip with the vehicle full of kids who love to state their opinions (quite boldly, I might add).
                              No complaints from the peanut gallery, believe it or not, and there also were none of those "Are we almost there?" questions every few minutes, either. That issue seems to have gone away in vehicles such as the 2012 Odyssey, where kids can find plenty of things to keep themselves occupied.
                              In our tester, there were hookups for video-game consoles, and of course the rear-seat entertainment system also played the kids' favorite videos. In fact, with the onboard movie and gaming opportunities, the more-common question was, "Are we already there? I'm not ready to get out yet."
                              I didn't really have any complaints from the driver's seat, either, except for not being able to watch the movie that some of my passengers were enjoying.
                              The newest generation of the Odyssey arrived for 2011, representing the evolution of a minivan that has gone from "so-so" at the beginning (1995-98), to "decent" during its second generation (1999-2004), "very good" in its third iteration (2005-2010), and "quite remarkable" in the now fourth generation.
                              Whoever designed the interior must have kids, because this is the most kid-friendly vehicle I've ever encountered. The folks up front are well taken care of, too. The front bucket seats were so comfortable that fatigue from a long drive was kept to a minimum.
                              On a long jaunt, our Odyssey became a home on wheels, and there was plenty of room for the adults, the kids, and all of our stuff.
                              The Odyssey can carry up to eight people, and everyone gets a comfortable seat. Even with all the seats occupied, there is 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space. With the third row folded, leaving room for five, cargo space grows to 93.1 cubic feet.
                              For 2012, Odyssey prices range from $28,225 (plus $810 freight) for the base LX model, to $43,625 for the top-of-the-line Touring Elite version, which we tested. Perhaps the only downside to the Odyssey is that prices are considerably higher than those of its main competitors.
                              While the Odyssey is the best-selling minivan brand on the market, combined sales of Chrysler's two models - the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country - are higher. Those vans have starting prices lower than the Odyssey's, though.
                              Despite the higher prices, the Odyssey is a great value. Other models in the lineup include the EX ($31,475); EX-L, with leather interior ($34,875); EX-L with rear entertainment ($36,475); EX-L with leather and navigation ($36,875), and the Touring ($41,180).
                              All models come with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 248 horsepower and 250 foot-pounds of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard. EPA ratings are 18 mpg city/27 highway for the LX and EX models, which come with a five-speed automatic transmission; and 19/28 for the Touring models, which have a six-speed automatic.
                              The tank holds 21 gallons of gasoline. On our trip, we average nearly 26 mpg, according to the driving computer on the dash. We set the cruise control at the speed limit for the best fuel economy, and were mostly on interstate highways. The engine was able to hold the set speed most of the time, except for a slight drop-off on the occasional uphill grades.
                              With the Touring Elite model, we had the ultra-wide rear entertainment system with split-screen capability so two programs could be shown at one time; and a 110-volt outlet to power the Xbox or the kids' laptops. The system plays DVDs, too, of course.
                              For the kids' laptops to have Internet access, I just activated the mobile hot spot on my personal Sprint Samsung smartphone, and everyone was happy. Sprint seems to have Internet access even on the remotest of interstates, in many places where there was no AT&T data service available on my iPad (which was still able to access the Internet using the Sprint hot spot - what a hoot!).
                              Our vehicle also included a small refrigerator up front, which Honda calls a "cool box." It works only when the engine is running, but can keep drinks relatively cold.
                              The newest Odyssey's roof is more steeply angled toward the rear than before, making the vehicle 1.6 inches lower. It's 1.4 inches wider, as well, and aerodynamics have been improved to boost fuel economy.
                              There are new projector-beam headlights, LED taillights and form-fit fog lights.
                              Interior improvements included better visibility, so even those in the third row can see what's going on outside. The Touring Elite model comes with everything that is available for the Odyssey, including leather, navigation and entertainment.
                              Standard are high-intensity-discharge headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, 12.6-inch ventilated front disc brakes, power side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and a power-operated tailgate.
                              Total price of our tester was $44,685, including freight. Honda does not offer options; each trim level's price is all-inclusive, with no extras available.



                              Honda Lauded for Its Healthy Interiors

                              While the traditional new-car smell has long been a hallmark of just-bought vehicles, it can also be a surprising source of “indoor” air pollution. In fact, according to Jeff Gearheart, research director at the Ecology Center, “Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces. Automobiles function as chemical reactors, creating one of the most hazardous environments we spend time in.” But here’s something else that the Ecology Center research shows: As detailed at the HealthyStuff.org website, Honda is the leading automaker in the industry—and the new Honda Civic is the No. 1 vehicle—in terms of emitting the lowest levels of these chemicals. Contributing to this achievement is the fact Honda uses no bromine-based flame retardants in the Civic’s interior components, and the car’s interior fabrics and trim are made without using polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The Ecology Center also praised the Civic for its low levels of heavy metals and other metal allergens.
                              Notably, the Honda CR-Z was among the website’s top-10 list, too, as were two vehicles from the automaker’s premium division, the Acura RDX and Acura ZDX crossovers.
                              “We’re pleased to be recognized by HealthyStuff.org for our efforts. Over the past decade, Honda has taken a number of steps to reduce or remove chemicals of concern from our vehicles. We voluntarily report these efforts in our annual North American Environmental Report,” stated Marcos Frommer, manager of Corporate Affairs & Communications at American Honda.


                              Last edited by tokyodream; 16-03-12, 06:01. Reason: completare
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                              • http://www.tribtown.com/view/story/0...da-Hybrid-Suit

                                San Diego judge approves Honda settlement over hybrids' fuel economy promises

                                SAN DIEGO — A judge approved a settlement Friday to give owners of Honda Civic hybrids up to $200 each over claims that the fuel economy of the cars was inflated, casting aside arguments that a motorist's victory in small claims court entitled other owners to a larger award.

                                Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor said the essence of a settlement is compromise.

                                "No doubt plaintiffs would have loved to have gotten more. Certainly their counsel had every incentive to get as much as possible," he said. "Honda undoubtedly has many arrows left in its quiver, and certainly would have preferred to pay nothing."

                                Taylor listened to nearly two hours of arguments before ruling.

                                The case gained widespread attention after a Los Angeles woman won a $9,867 judgment last month against Honda in small claims court — a ruling that is under appeal by the carmaker. Plaintiff Heather Peters opted out of the class action so she could try to claim a larger damage award for her the failure of her 2006 Civic to deliver the 50 mpg that was promised.

                                The judge said Peters' legal victory carried little weight.

                                Peters, who recently reinstated her law license, said Friday that she was disappointed but not surprised at Taylor's ruling.

                                The judge got testy with her last month when she tried to address him at a hearing, saying he had not yet received confirmation that her license was renewed. His patience also wore thin when California and four other states briefly considered objecting to the settlement after Peters' victory.

                                The judge was visibly irritated with Peters again Friday when she complained about difficulty reviewing documents under the court's outdated paper filing system.

                                "Do you really want me to get into that, Ms. Peters?" the judge asked.

                                The judge went on to say Peters recently "disrupted" his courtroom to gain access to the docket. To accommodate her, he said he ordered that a copy of the voluminous documents be made available for public viewing.

                                Peters told reporters after the hearing that she was focused on arguing Honda's appeal of her small-claims award on April 13.

                                "I'm certainly disappointed, but we're proud to have stood up," she said.

                                The settlement pays owners of about 200,000 Honda Civics from model years 2003 to 2009 between $100 and $200, plus a rebate toward the purchase of a new Honda. Owners of models from 2006 to 2008 get the larger amount due to additional claims over battery defects.

                                The judge has valued the settlement at $170 million. Attorneys for the plaintiffs have pegged the value between $87.5 million and $461.3 million, depending largely on how many people accept rebates of up to $1,500.

                                The judge approved more than $8 million in plaintiff attorneys fees in his 43-page ruling.

                                Peters' win in small claims court was a unique end run around the class action process, which typically give small payments to consumers. In small claims court, there are no attorneys' fees, cases are decided quickly, and individual payments are far greater.

                                Nicholas Chimicles, one of the plaintiff attorneys, expressed concern that consumers were being falsely led to believe the small claims court was "nirvana." Honda said it has won five of the six small claims over the hybrids since January, with Peters dealing its only defeat.

                                Chimicles, who billed $675 to $750 an hour for his work on the case, told the judge that the new converts to the small claims venue were "akin to following the Pied Piper over the precipice."

                                More than 1,700 Honda owners opted out of the settlement. Some believed consumers should be paid more. Others complained the attorney fees were too high.

                                Kathy Proya of Toronto, Ohio, called the settlement a "travesty of justice," saying it enriches lawyers while only covering a fraction of the loss from the 208,000 miles she logged on her 2005 Civic. Christian Matthews of El Cerrito, Calif., equated Honda Motor Co. to "a con man, swindler or a thief."

                                Still, the judge noted, many objectors were sympathetic to the automaker and satisfied with the car's performance. Clancy Hughes, a physician in Homer, Alaska, said the complaints "seem spurious."

                                American Honda Motor Co., the Japanese automaker's U.S. subsidiary, could have backed out because more than 1,500 owners opted out, but it embraced the agreement.

                                "Honda is pleased with the court's approval of this settlement as a fair resolution for our customers that demonstrates our desire to preserve our good relationship with Civic Hybrid owners who chose to participate in this class action," a company statement read.

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