I’ve been Honda’s biggest fan since high school. My first car, a gunmetal gray 1985 Accord, was solid, reliable, comfortable and could escort me and seven of my closest friends to and from school in relative ease. (Stacking eight people into a 5-seat sedan is another reason 16-year-olds shouldn’t have all-access driver’s licenses. Bad idea.)
In the last couple years I’ve watched, along with other Honda fans, the cars grow heavier, bigger, uglier and less competitive than other sedans. I test-drove an Accord the last time I was in the market for a family car, but found it too big and too expensive for my needs. If my high-school Accord was that cavernous, I probably could’ve fit my seven friends inside with much less drama.
Considering some of the competition out there, including the Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, Kia Optima and Ford Fusion, it’s not surprising that Honda has acknowledged its slide and labeled recent Accord sales unsatisfactory.
In the United States, Honda sold just 26,771 Accords last month, down from 31,533 vehicles a year ago.
“We are not satisfied with that,” American Honda President and Chief Executive Tetsuo Iwamura told Automotive News. The drop in sales has translated to a decrease in Honda’s share of the U.S. light-vehicle sales market, from 10.1 percent to 9.2 percent.
Honda is expected to debut a new Accord later this year, but it had better be good, because the competition is only getting better.
Take, for instance, the next Mazda6.
The 2014 Mazda6 will have Mazda’s SkyActiv 2.0-liter gas engine, which boosts fuel efficiency by around 30 percent. Plus, it’ll look something like the Takeri concept, pictured here. The new Mazda6 will debut at this year’s Paris Auto Show and go on sale in early 2013.
If it’s priced the same as or below the Accord, this’ll be another on the list of cars that threaten to chip away at Honda’s market share.
Personally, I would love to see Honda follow the retro trend and design a future Accord as a throwback to the classic ’84 style. Smaller, lighter, maybe a turbo-charged option and that oh-so-cool gunmetal gray.
What would Honda have to do to beat the Accord’s competition?