Date: December 19, 2006 11:15
Automotive News' Talk from the Top series of interviews features Honda CEO Takeo Fukui this week. In the interview Mr. Fukui talks about a number of things including the planned diesel powertrains for the US, future hybrid models, the continued drive to differentiate Acura from Honda, the sales struggles of the RL, expanding the role of turbochargers within Acura and Honda, expansion of production capacity in the US and abroad, the launching of a new hybrid model in 2009, the application of hybrids vs. diesels, as well as the potential of seeing hybrid diesels, and even the prospects of bringing the European Civic model to other markets.
The article is full of interesting statements, but here's a listing of some select items:
- In talking about differentiating the Acura brand from Honda, Mr. Fukui brings up the specific example of the RDX vs. the CR-V, noting that the RDX's turbo motor was fitted in an attempt to create a differentiating factor (I can already hear the thumps of people fainting in the product development and PR offices in Torrance). Then, unless I'm misreading him, he goes on to imply that they may not be happy with how that approach panned out as he says "Going forward, we're thinking of different ways to differentiate."
- Mr Fukui is asked by the interviewer if he's happy with the success of the RDX and MDX launches, as "Acura sales still seem to be struggling". Mr Fukui responds affirmatively expresses his confidence that the sales volume for those models can be grown "step by step", but then reasserts that Acura needs to work on further enhancing its premium image.
- In a second part of his response to the Acura "slow sales" question, Mr. Fukui concedes that the RL fell short of their expectations.
- Mr. Fukui is asked if we should expect to see more turbochargers in the Acura lineup and his response is that there are currently no plans, but they are looking at other ways to enhance Acura's sportiness. He also mentions that turbos are not exclusive to Acura and are being considered for Honda-badged products as well.
- Speaking about Honda's commitment to fuel economy and CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, Mr. Fukui mentions again that Honda is preparing a new dedicated hybrid model for introduction in 2009. As part of another question, Mr. Fukui indicates that there is no Hybrid Jazz/Fit in the plans, as it's "unnecessary", but the new hybrid model will be sized similarly, but "a completely different model".
- Diesels - Mr. Fukui reaffirms that two diesels are headed our way, presumably the 2.2L that's currently offered in Europe as well as a V6. He indicates that the candidates for the larger diesel would be vehicles like the MDX, Odyssey, Pilot, and Ridgeline. He also doesn't rule out the potential for having diesels in sporty applications.
- This isn't really newsworthy but I thought it was an interesting fact. Mr. Fukui states that the current 2.2L diesel motor was actually developed as a 1.6L motor during prototype stages, but when it was commercialized they "turned it into a 2.2l engine".
- The European Civic is mentioned with respect to the possibility of ever seeing a version of it here in the US or even Japan as the result of a favorable shift in the exchange rate. Mr Fukui's response indicates that he realizes there is a lot of interest from both the US market as well as Japanese market and he indicates that if the exchange rate were to shift, "there would be a lot of possibilities".
There's plenty more to read (and interpret) in the article, but those items in particular caught my eye.
Read the Article Here:
http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061218/SUB/61215011 (requires subscription)
Last edited by JeffX on
February 01, 2008 10:01