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TOV Forums > General Talk > > Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too

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CB77
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Zoom-Zoom? Maybe not...    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-09-2012 13:36
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(From today's Auto News)


LOS ANGELES -- Mazda Motor Corp., battling four years of losses, is offering voluntary buyout packages to U.S. workers and raising the specter of dismissals in an effort to cut costs.

Mazda is “in the midst of an extremely challenging business environment,” said Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, in a March 7 memo to employees obtained by Automotive News. “It has become necessary for us to reexamine our business to accelerate further cost improvements.”

Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes confirmed the plan today. Mazda has 701 U.S. employees, he said.

The announcement follows last month’s disclosure that the Japanese parent expects to post a net loss of 100 billion yen, or $1.2 billion, for the fiscal year that ends March 31. It will be Mazda’s biggest lost in 11 years, reflecting the export-dependent automaker’s exposure to the strong yen.


cforez
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Re: Zoom-Zoom? Maybe not...    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-09-2012 14:52
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Mazda just announced a stock offering last week to raise $1.77 billion, but it will dilute their shares by almost 70%. They are going to use some that money to build a plant in Mexico to try to buffer themselves against the value of the yen.
http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUST9E8DM02Y20120305?irpc=932


A77
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Re: Zoom-Zoom? Maybe not...    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-09-2012 16:37
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Mazda is Japan's biggest car exporter. I think....
CarPhreakD
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Re: Zoom-Zoom? Maybe not...    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-09-2012 19:57
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I think it should be obvious to Mazda that they need to ship production of vehicles out of Japan. Maybe use the Honda/Toyota strategy of reassigning those staff to kei-cars. They will probably also want at least a few partners to share production facilities and engineering costs.
Midi_Amp
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Re: Zoom-Zoom? Maybe not...    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-09-2012 21:26
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Funny fact, because of all Mazda cars in my country are imported, thus carrying premium price, people think of it as a premium brand. Simple minded market is a haven for multinational companies nowadays.

I find Mazda as the sole survivor of becoming appliance automotive brands. Evoking styling, good technology and instill fun to drive in all their products. Quite a shame they bleed out this much. Seems like their bean counters are not working at all. Honda case is just absurd, but proper cash flow management should be in effect, don't keep all the eggs in one basket sort of thing.
CB77
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Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-10-2012 19:10
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Well, I guess I shouldn't have been so smug about Mazda announcing the job-cuts and early retirement plans. American Honda just announced the same Friday, effective for all divisions. I fear this will just accelerate the brain-drain for American Honda...further thinning the ranks of those people with Honda DNA, who know what Honda used to be like, and could be again, with the right people.

NealX
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-10-2012 20:31
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^ Is there an article about that somewhere? Thanks.
CB77
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-10-2012 23:22
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Neal,

It is on Honda's internal website...but I do not feel comfortable posting it yet. I'm sure you will see the full story in next week's Automotive News. Once it has broken in the auto press, I will give some more details.

NealX
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-11-2012 14:43
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I understand. Thanks.
330R
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-11-2012 19:19
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Unreal, CB77. I'm concerned about the brain drain/thinning of the talent pool, too, and have been since Shigeru Uehara retired. The impression I got from third parties was that he saw the changes on the horizon, and left while the leaving was good. I could take cold comfort in one thing: take the buyout, Mendel. Oh, that's right - he isn't an old-schooler. So much for that.
FiSH-Chan
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Re: Zoom-Zoom? Maybe not...    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-11-2012 21:13
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Midi_Amp wrote:
Funny fact, because of all Mazda cars in my country are imported, thus carrying premium price, people think of it as a premium brand. Simple minded market is a haven for multinational companies nowadays.


Not so much here.. with the 3 and 6 and CX-9 etc.. yeah pretty much good cars and premium feeling.. but the Mazda 2 and others (like the Mazda Fighter).... not so much 'premium'-like .. add to that the insane prices for them not only initial cost but also cost of spares parts and availibity.. far too many people give them a pass without even looking. I can count on one hand the Mazda 3s in my town. I can just tell you striaght.. there is only 2 as far as i know.

At least with the proper 'premium' brands people are buying them because they're actually premium (not much else), there are FAR more BMWs and Mercedes for example even though they are overpriced and far too costly for any average sane person.


I find Mazda as the sole survivor of becoming appliance automotive brands. Evoking styling, good technology and instill fun to drive in all their products. Quite a shame they bleed out this much. Seems like their bean counters are not working at all. Honda case is just absurd, but proper cash flow management should be in effect, don't keep all the eggs in one basket sort of thing.



I think the real problem with Mazda is they failed to build factories elsewhere and go 'global' instead just rely on japan export alone it is a mistake that they are really feeling now.
NealX
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-13-2012 15:33
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CB77 wrote:

Neal,

It is on Honda's internal website...but I do not feel comfortable posting it yet. I'm sure you will see the full story in next week's Automotive News. Once it has broken in the auto press, I will give some more details.



Did anything come of this?
CB77
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-13-2012 17:32
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Neal,

I am surprised to not see this yet in Auto News. I talked to one of my friends in Auto, as to why we are not seeing this in the automotive press...and he said that he assumes that since Mazda is in severe financial trouble (and Honda is not) that the Mazda early-retirement/layoff announcement is big news, and the Honda early retirement buyout is not.

He says he understands that the Mazda program is a "take-it-or-else plan" (if enough employees do not take the buyout, Mazda will have to start swinging the axe thru layoffs). Whereas the Honda plan is more aimed at trimming some "dead-wood", by inviting some of those people in their late 50s, with high incomes, to retire early. There is no not-so-veiled threat of layoffs (like at Mazda) if enough people do not accept early retirement.

As I said in my earlier post, some of that "dead-wood" are the people who well-remember the good years at Honda, have actually met Mr. Honda, and are still inspired by him. Time passes, things change, but I don't have to like it.


WongKN
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 00:07
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Wow, Honda is looking like making the same mistakes as my employer did many years ago. In the name of cost cutting, they offered some sort of VSS and found that the people who took it are the senior people with lots of experience, knowledge, and skills. So these people took away hundreds of years of total experience with them, skills that we have never managed to regain again, and worse still, the culture that made my employer the powerhouse we were back in the 80's. And most damaging of all, those senior people took away customer and client rapport, the intangible but priceless personal relationships that we also never managed to regain.

This sadly seems to be the trend in modern business management. The idea is that it is -that- easy to simply hire a fresh grad, give him or her some training, and assume they can just take over from the guy with decades of experience who has the corporate culture built in to him/her.

In this case, problem with Honda in ASEAN from what I can see, is they don't pay that well particularly and don't really recognize the best employees so promotion is often made wrongly. As a result, the absolute best employees quickly moves off to competitors.
typer_801
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 00:22
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I'm not close enough to Honda to appreciate what the impact of early retirement offers might mean to the workforce. I can say, given the current product set, change doesn't scare me too much. A new direction and some fresh blood seems long overdue....hopefully Mendel is taking a package.
sadlerau
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 01:05
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typer_801 wrote:
I'm not close enough to Honda to appreciate what the impact of early retirement offers might mean to the workforce. I can say, given the current product set, change doesn't scare me too much. A new direction and some fresh blood seems long overdue....hopefully Mendel is taking a package.


The worry in these situations is that it is the people you most need are the ones that will move on, leaving the lesser lights behind! As for Mendel, I don't know him, but if he is the one you think should go, I'll give odds that he will be the one staying :)
CB77
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 08:53
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WongKN and sadlerau,

Your concerns are well-founded. Three years ago, American Honda’s Motorcycle division offered a similar program to the one announced last week. 31% of the employees in that division took the package and left…and it was exactly the 31% that should not have left (the smart ones who knew what they were doing, and had Honda DNA). That division is still reeling from those effects.

It has been my experience in such Voluntary Separation Programs that the “dead-wood” stays with the company, the good people leave. I don’t think we should hold our breath for Mendel taking this package…he has it too good where he is.

And typer_801, most of the “current product set” that you refer to, was conceived and executed by the younger and newer people in the company. So I don’t believe jettisoning many of the experienced employees is going to have the effect you are hoping for, or advance our cause.




WongKN
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 09:30
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Yeah, till today I still remember the effect of that 'VSS'. My senior the company and I, with barely 5 years experience had to shoulder technical support of a major software for the entire country. I did benefit from some training and it was during this period that I had the luck to travel to many countries for my training; U.S., U.K., etc. But it took me many more years to get to the same level as my senior. And I really suffered during those years.

The ironic thing is that, even at only 5 years of experience, at that time even I myself already received a couple of offers. But I was too young and when I asked for my VSS, my rather street-wise manager told me the 'V' in VSS is 'voluntary' and that means its up to -them- to voluntarily offer the package to me, not for me to take it up. And he says he will veto it (i.e. he won't offer). It was only later that my senior told me that was pure nonsense but when he too was told the same story but he threatened to bring it up to the labour office and my employer realized they were pushed into a corner and had to let him go.

Like I said, my employer claims they did not expect all the best people to leave. I am not sure if they really did believe that claim.
typer_801
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 12:23
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That may absolutely be the case, but someone above them agreed with those ideas, proposals, and designs ultimately approving them.

What I'm trying to say is it's the leadership that's lacking....you need great vision from the top and it's simply not there right now.

What's Acura's vision....if you wait a week or two it will change again...perfect example of the LACK of vision and leadership at Honda now.

Great companies almost always have great leaders, that was very much the case when Soichiro Honda was at the helm, you can argue the same for other greats like Steve Jobs. Many other examples too, but what they all have in common is an ambitious vision and incredible ability to execute.

Not too hard to argue that greatness is lacking from Honda in the last several years and I'm certainly not inspired by Ito-san or Mendel in recent memory, which is why I'm not not concerned about the younger workers so much as the one's at the top (the very top) who are supposed to be providing leadership, vision and inspiration. Change at that level, if done right, could have a very positive impact on the company long term.


CB77 wrote:

And typer_801, most of the “current product set” that you refer to, was conceived and executed by the younger and newer people in the company. So I don’t believe jettisoning many of the experienced employees is going to have the effect you are hoping for, or advance our cause.







DCR
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 13:56
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With all of the production, etc, why is Honda cutting jobs?
CB77
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 16:04
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Yeah, but unfortunately those currently at the very top in American Honda that are OK-ing some of these bad product ideas that are coming from younger employees (ZDX, Crosstour, Etc) are not long-time Honda people who came up thru the ranks, but "Detroit retreads" as I have called them before...who moved to Honda only in recent years from GM, Ford, Mazda and Chrysler. A notable exception was Tom Elliott...who proves my point.

CB77
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 16:12
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DCR wrote:
With all of the production, etc, why is Honda cutting jobs?



As you know, Honda takes great pride in high-efficiency, both in their vehicles and their workforce. I'm sure the decision-making conversation went something like this: "We can buy-out this 59-year-old guy and hire 3 new 23-year-olds for the same money we were paying him...What could possibly go wrong??"


typer_801
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 16:43
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I'm certainly no domestic car lover and despise the UAW, but there are some very good Detroit re-treads, as you call them, that could offer a lot to Honda....certainly more than we're getting today.

I'd be happy to see Alan Mulally as CEO of Honda after he retires from Ford, or Bob Lutz to offer some product development ideas.

While not a big fan of Rick Wagoner (former GM CEO), I thought he made a lot of changes that positioned GM well for a strong return after the bailout (appointment of Lutz, personally controlling the NA car division, focus on improving small details, quality).

I'm a fan of John Heinrecy, famed GM engineer and driver, head of the performance division that created the Cobalt SS, et al. which from a track perspective got rave reviews and mopped the Civic Si, GTI, MS3 up on track, not to mention many other RWD performance cars (i.e. hyundai genesis).

I honestly don't see how some new blood, absence of the group think mentality, can hurt Honda at this point in the game. They really need some big changes beyond launching the three main US stalwarts products: Accord, Civic, & CR-V.

DCR
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-14-2012 17:02
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typer_801 wrote:
I'm certainly no domestic car lover and despise the UAW, but there are some very good Detroit re-treads, as you call them, that could offer a lot to Honda....certainly more than we're getting today.

I'd be happy to see Alan Mulally as CEO of Honda after he retires from Ford, or Bob Lutz to offer some product development ideas.

While not a big fan of Rick Wagoner (former GM CEO), I thought he made a lot of changes that positioned GM well for a strong return after the bailout (appointment of Lutz, personally controlling the NA car division, focus on improving small details, quality).

I'm a fan of John Heinrecy, famed GM engineer and driver, head of the performance division that created the Cobalt SS, et al. which from a track perspective got rave reviews and mopped the Civic Si, GTI, MS3 up on track, not to mention many other RWD performance cars (i.e. hyundai genesis).

I honestly don't see how some new blood, absence of the group think mentality, can hurt Honda at this point in the game. They really need some big changes beyond launching the three main US stalwarts products: Accord, Civic, & CR-V.




Wait...what?
CarPhreakD
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-15-2012 22:42
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Let me put it this way: The NSX was "forced" upon Ito's lap, Mendel has always been sort of old and out of touch, and we haven't seen anything Honda of Japan's department really doing much lately exciting, and the Japanese have missed the mark completely for this generation of vehicles. I think relying on American Honda division can only be a good thing.

It is company policy to hand the reins over to fresh faces for new ideas for the company; in the case of engineers, sending them out to the racing divisions to learn new ideas. This was one thing that Honda was known for, along with having a new CEO every few years, and always an engineer. Despite CB77's hilarious depiction of Detroit retreads, I don't think Honda of Japan is anywhere close to being the way it used to be.
CB77
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-16-2012 09:22
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CarPhreakD,

Yes, I think you are right. I would be horrified to see any of the people that typer_801 suggests to be in charge at Honda. Lutz could have given us the Honda Volt, if he had been on our payroll. Even Detroit understands this, when they tried to hire Soichiro Irimajiri away from Honda for GM in the '90s. (He was the brilliant engineer who should have been a CEO for Honda LTD.)

What typer wishes for would only take us further down the road in a direction that we are all currently distressed by. The drift in direction that we have seen the past 10 years or so has largely been caused by the placement of people in high positions at American Honda who are from other companies, and do not have a good understanding (or even an appreciation for) the Honda philosophy.


JMU R1
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-16-2012 10:07
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CB77,
Do you feel like the exodus of some of the old school folks in the motorcycle division has hurt the direction of motorcycles as well?

On one hand I see that Honda has figured out that they need to pay attention to the lower end of the market with bikes like the CBR250 and NC700X. On the other hand I feel like they missed huge opportunities by not producing the CB1100R concept, making a half-hearted supermoto, and not taking a stab at making a cafe racer. Not to mention that the the supersports haven't had a FMC in 5 years.

Of course maybe it's simply that sales have fallen about 50% in the US and the yen is incredibly strong. Maybe Honda simply can't do some of the things they planned to do with motorcycles because of the economic situation.
Torque
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-16-2012 11:58
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JMU R1 wrote:
CB77,
Do you feel like the exodus of some of the old school folks in the motorcycle division has hurt the direction of motorcycles as well?

On one hand I see that Honda has figured out that they need to pay attention to the lower end of the market with bikes like the CBR250 and NC700X. On the other hand I feel like they missed huge opportunities by not producing the CB1100R concept, making a half-hearted supermoto, and not taking a stab at making a cafe racer. Not to mention that the the supersports haven't had a FMC in 5 years.

Of course maybe it's simply that sales have fallen about 50% in the US and the yen is incredibly strong. Maybe Honda simply can't do some of the things they planned to do with motorcycles because of the economic situation.



I think Honda's entry into the 250 class was the smartest thing they could have done. Many countries have engine size restrictions on licenses limiting how powerful of a bike you can initially buy without first being approved, the UK being one. Also, the 250 class is one of the best selling class bikes in the world so since Honda builds the 250 in Thailand for dirt cheap, they are able to export it and probably make a really good per unit profit. I learned on a 250 and still have it but I went with a Kawasaki Ninja 250R.

The last motorcycle show I went to, I spoke to reps from all the major Japanese bikes and there isn't a whole lot of investment in the larger displacement sport bikes right now. Earnings have taken a hit across the board so companies are bolstering the lower end bikes to build up the buyer base just getting into motorcycles for the first time. Kawasaki rules the 250 class and Honda saw an opportunity. I was looking into buying a new Suzuki SV650 but a new model didn't come out last year. A new one might come out in a year or so but the rep didn't know for sure. Most, if not all, motorcycle companies have taken a major hit since 2008 and haven't come close to fully recovering.

JMU R1
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-16-2012 13:43
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Torque wrote:
The last motorcycle show I went to, I spoke to reps from all the major Japanese bikes and there isn't a whole lot of investment in the larger displacement sport bikes right now. Earnings have taken a hit across the board so companies are bolstering the lower end bikes to build up the buyer base just getting into motorcycles for the first time. Kawasaki rules the 250 class and Honda saw an opportunity. I was looking into buying a new Suzuki SV650 but a new model didn't come out last year. A new one might come out in a year or so but the rep didn't know for sure. Most, if not all, motorcycle companies have taken a major hit since 2008 and haven't come close to fully recovering.

Yeah all of the Japanese manufacturers took a devastating hit to their sales with the economic crisis. At this point though I have to wonder if the fact that they've largely avoided redesigning their bikes is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Current owners have no reason to upgrade so sales are not recovering as well as they could be. New riders simply end up buying used bikes, although I suspect that would be the case either way.

I do think the Japanese manufacturers maybe got too reliant on young guys with dodgy credit buying supersports. Before the crisis maybe a young dude would buy a bike on unsecured credit, thereby avoiding the astronomical cost for comprehensive insurance. When that credit dried up they simply couldn't afford the bikes anymore. Not to mention that a lot of people lost their jobs or took a bath on real estate.

By contrast, people who were buying Ducatis and BMWs were already a little more well off to start so they didn't see their purchasing power decreased as much. Now BMW and Ducati are setting sales records (relatively to themselves).

I guess the right answer for the Japanese factories is to bring back more affordable bikes that are well-designed and high value. It just sucks for someone like me who was itching to buy a brand new 1000RR.
typer_801
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Re: Less Zoom-Zoom at Honda, too    (Score: 1, Normal) 03-16-2012 14:32
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Here's where we disagree....you think it's Honda of America that's set things adrift, while I believe it's led by Honda of Japan.

Here's a great example....there was a genuine opportunity to take advantage of the US meltdown in 2008, a way for Honda to take marketshare and establish much more dominance in the US market. What does Takeo Fukui do and then Ito continue to endorse once he takes over? Cancel the NSX & rwd Acuras, offers no replacement for the S2K, Civic Type R (FD2). Then gives us the Insight and CR-Z. Then Ito personally steps in to give direction on the '12 Civic cutting corners and cheapening it from the model HoA wanted.

Come on, the biggest problems with the leadership are from Japan. Honda needs new blood, most shuddered when Mulally took the helm of Ford, someone unfamiliar with the auto-industry and someone not from the Ford family, yet he's the reason why they're so strong now through a number of very smart moves.

Everything starts at the top, that's why I sadly expect little change from Honda because there aren't enough leadership changes to fix all the medicrity that exist right now.

CB77 wrote:
CarPhreakD,

Yes, I think you are right. I would be horrified to see any of the people that typer_801 suggests to be in charge at Honda. Lutz could have given us the Honda Volt, if he had been on our payroll. Even Detroit understands this, when they tried to hire Soichiro Irimajiri away from Honda for GM in the '90s. (He was the brilliant engineer who should have been a CEO for Honda LTD.)

What typer wishes for would only take us further down the road in a direction that we are all currently distressed by. The drift in direction that we have seen the past 10 years or so has largely been caused by the placement of people in high positions at American Honda who are from other companies, and do not have a good understanding (or even an appreciation for) the Honda philosophy.




 
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