Takahiro Hachigo — the new president and CEO of Honda Motor Company — has a vision that will fuel some new designs for Honda Automobiles. With advancement of the automaker’s global operation structure and the development of new products, Hachigo plans to step up the competition going forward. Plans are even in the works for a new “baby NSX” , but until that becomes a reality, the sporty design of the all-new Civic and the effort put into redesigning the 2016 Accord gives insight into just what Honda has in store for us.
If you were lucky enough to see the 2015 Honda Civic Concept at the New York Auto Show earlier in 2015, then you already have an Idea of the new sporty design. The look of the 10th-generation 2016 Honda Civic is the most commendable manifestation of Honda’s new design so far. It will feature tight body lines, and while it will be toned down a bit from the concept, it will still sport an aggressive front end that will discourage even the heaviest customizer from needing an aftermarket body kit. The new Civic is designed to be more sporty than anything, so don’t expect a large trunk opening to go along with the liftback-like design. I wouldn’t expect the large spoiler shown on the concept either, but you can bet the option will be there for a smaller fin on the rear end. The Civic will be offered in various trim levels, including a Type-R and a Si variant. Following the competition, the new Civic will have a new turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that is mated to either a short-throw, six-speed transmission or a CVT transmission for those who like to simply go. When properly equipped, the Civic will should still get more than 40 mpg when cruising the interstate.
The 2016 Accord also goes to show that Hachigo and his engineers aren’t playing around. Expect to see more stylish front and rear bumpers, a new grille, and new lights all the way around. I wouldn’t expect the front end to look as aggressive as what we’ll see on the Civic, but it will be a nice step up from the years before in terms of snarl. If you look for the touring model, you’ll see the multi-element headlamps similar to the LED lights seen in a lot of Acura models – hopefully something we’ll see on the new Civic as well. The Accord Sedan will sport more of a fastback design, providing a sporty look not previously seen in previous models. The new Accord will likely see direct fuel injection and may share a new nine-speed automatic transmission with the 2016 Honda Pilot.
Why it matters
All of this is a big deal for the automaker with legendary reliability. Recent generations of the Civic have been criticized for being less sporty than expected and didn’t quite compete with the looks of competitors like the 2014-2015 Scion TC and 2014 Kia Forte Koup.
I’m willing to bet the new Civic will have the rivals rushing back to the drawing board. It’s great to see some new designs coming to the Accord as well. The car has remained roughly the same over the past couple of generations, and I suspect Honda will see it holding its own against the Malibu, Camry, and even the VW Passat. I think Hachigo is on the right track with Honda, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for the rest of Honda’s lineup.
2014-2015 Honda Civic
2014 Honda Accord
The new President & CEO of Honda Motor Co., Takahiro Hachigo, unveiled his future vision for the company. He highlighted two themes that the new “Team Honda” will pursue:
I want to create a new Honda under two themes.
1. Advancement of the six-region global operation structure
2. Continuous development of challenging products unique to Honda and delivering them to our customers around the world
Let me talk about my vision for the future of Honda which will be established as we pursue these themes. The key word is “Team Honda.”
Honda’s strength is that team/project members share one goal and take on challenges and attain high targets.
Honda’s challenges have always been generated “at the spot.”
Let me share some of my experiences that proved these points to me.
1999 – As an Assistant Large Project Leader (development leader), I was involved in the development of the U.S. Odyssey, the first full-size minivan Honda introduced in North America, together with the startup of a new plant in Canada.
It was an important project that would forge the future of Honda business in North America. The team consisted of members who came from different areas of expertise and different countries working as one. This project established the foundation for Honda’s future light truck production.
2011 – Shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I took office as the General Manager of the Suzuka Factory. We took on challenges to integrate development, production and purchasing for mini-vehicles. This project resulted in the establishment of SKI (Suzuka K Innovation), a division that promotes Honda’s mini-vehicle business, which achieved the success of our N Series, with cumulative sales exceeding 1 million units.
2012 – I served as the Vice President of Honda Motor Europe Ltd. in the U.K. in the midst of an economic slump in Europe. Development, production and purchasing divisions were put together on the same floor at the production plant. Being developed after a series of discussions on that floor, the all-new Civic Type R became a model with a distinct presence even in Europe, the land of sports cars. An all-new Civic Type R is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in the fall of this year.
2013 – I served as the Representative of Development, Purchasing and Production at Honda Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd. in China. A major change in how Honda does business with its joint venture partners in China was undertaken successfully. Now, the two joint venture companies (Guangqi Honda and Dongfeng Honda) make their own cars while sharing common platforms.
Through my experiences “at the spot,” I learned how important it is for each and every associate to share a goal and work as one team.
Honda demonstrates its strength when a team is formed that combines the personal qualities of each member.
The important thing for such a team is opportunities where members can voice their own opinions and have in-depth discussions.
My role is to build a bottom-up environment where teams “at the spot” can take action based on their own initiatives.
The goal of Team Honda is to have a strong bond with our customers through challenging products created by such teams “at the spot.”
Now, let me talk about how we are going to pursue the two themes under this direction.
1. Advancement of the six-region global operations structure
Existing six-region global operations structure
Honda employs a unique matrix management structure. Under this structure, each region has built up their own production capacity and established sales, development and purchasing functions, which has made it possible for each region to develop exclusive models for their region.
As the next step, we will utilize regional production capacity for our global operations as a whole.
Operational functions of the global headquarters will be enhanced to strongly promote mutually complementary inter-regional relationships.
Production allocation will be optimized while leveraging Honda’s flexible production system.
Examples of a mutually complementary relationship in the area of automobile production include the supply of some North American Fit and European Jazz models that will come from Japan, the next generation of Civic 5-door which will be supplied from Europe to other regions and the next generation of CR-V which will be supplied from Canada to Europe.
In Nigeria, Honda will begin local production of the Honda Accord this month (with planned annual production capacity of 1,000 units). This is first time for Honda to assemble automobiles in Africa.
2. Continuous development of challenging products unique to Honda and delivering them to our customers around the world.
In order to realize products that provide our customers with inspiring innovations and joys using unprecedented technologies, it is important for the team to work as one and think deeply.
S660 was created by a team that was newly-formed after a young associate proposed the ideal sports car he wanted to build.
This year, after pursuing a dream for nearly 30 years to take personal mobility to the skies through aircraft research, Honda will begin customer delivery of the HF120 jet engine and the HondaJet light business jet aircraft.
We will continue to be firmly committed to the creation of “challenging products” unique to Honda.
In the area of automobile products, the next-generation Civic will be equipped with a new platform and downsized turbo engine.
Core global Honda models CR-V and Accord will undergo full model changes in the future to make them more attractive vehicles that feature more new technologies, higher competitiveness and innovative designs.
We will strive to begin sales in Japan of the next-generation successor to FCX Clarity before the end of the current fiscal year (ending March 31, 2016). As the next-generation of mobility products, Honda will evolve products that use electricity as a core technology.
In the area of motorcycles, the CRF1000L, a dual-purpose model which is scheduled to be introduced to European markets at the end of 2015 and then in Japan and North America, will enable customers to experience a product unique only to Honda.
In the area of power products, Honda has been continuing its research and development of a Walking Assist Device which supports walking for people with weakened leg strength. Honda is striving to commercialize this product in Japan before the end of this year.
In order to continue using unprecedented technologies to deliver inspiring innovations and joys to our customers, Honda will be fully committed to product development in all business areas – motorcycles, automobiles, and power products.
There may be some occasions where teams need to take more time “at the spot” to make the best product. I will support associates at the spot in our manufacturing operations by ensuring they get the time they need.
Our priority is to pursue the art of manufacturing that leads to the joy of our customers
I believe in Honda’s people, technological strengths and potential. My job is to establish a system that connects the strengths we derive from the challenging spirit of each and every one of the 200,000 Honda associates around the world to the dreams of our customers.
What drives me forward with my fellow Honda associates is The Power of Dreams.
Driven by The Power of Dreams, Team Honda will keep moving forward with the goal to share joys with customers all around the world.