Honda, once a formidable force in the auto industry and a maker of bulletproof cars to which consumers flocked, has fallen from its mighty throne.
The carmaker used to be known for leading the way in innovation and blowing away the competition when it came to research and development. Today, the company admits it has pursued growth over quality and is now in need of a fundamental transformation.
Quality problems have plagued Honda vehicles in recent years, while competing cars have caught up, or even surpassed, the once invincible automaker. What does Honda need to do to get back on track?
It’s really quite simple.
When the new Honda Civic came out, it was hailed as a return to the brand’s glory days. It even won the North American Car of the Year award. Soon after, though, Honda had to recall over 40,000 of the cars due to a piston problem that could potentially destroy the engine.
On top of that, Honda is dealing with the fallout from the massive airbag recall involving tens of millions of vehicles.
The company has bloated to the point where it’s over capacity at Japanese production plants and has expanded its manufacturing overseas. Quality has slipped as the company has grown.
According to new CEO Takahiro Hachigo, via Automotive News,
‘We recognize the need for a fundamental transformation,’ he said last week while outlining the strategy. In designing cars for multiple regional markets, Honda was growing at ‘a pace and scale beyond our means,’ he conceded.
The solution is to return Honda to its roots and focus on the quality, rather than the quantity, of cars it builds and sells.
That’s a simple concept, but it involves restructuring the entire company. Hachigo has replaced board members and put younger people in charge of research and development. The company will need to consolidate and reshuffle production while building greener cars, including more hybrids and electrics. It needs to bring back its fun and affordable performance, and to rebuild its reputation for unfaltering reliability.
The new Honda Ridgeline shows the kind of innovation that Honda needs. The coming Civic hatchback should also reinvigorate the passion in buyers who appreciate performance. We hope those two vehicles will lead Honda to return to the pioneering spirit from which it was born.
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