After 3 Decades in the US, Honda Becomes A Native
|   Saturday, August 25, 2012
Two thirds of the Honda models sold in US are still developed in Japan, but Honda Motor is the most American of the Japanese carmakers, manufacturing about 85 percent of the vehicle it sells here in North American factories.

The engineers at Honda's R and D facility in Ohio have begun to take on more responsibility and that is leading to changes. They were assigned to develop different body styles of cars Japan had already engineered at first, like the wagon version of the Honda Accord or a coupe version of the Civic compact.
Over time, they took on development of Acura models as well as light trucks such as the Honda Pilot SUV and Odyssey minivan.

Erik Berkman, president of Honda R&D Americas, at an industry conference in northern Michigan said: "It's been a step-by-step process. It takes a long time to transplant the culture, beliefs and know-how of a company into new soil and then to execute it consistently and at a high level."

Thanks to their efforts, the Americans in Ohio have earned the right of developing two of Honda‘s most important future cars: the next generation NSX supercar and Honda Civic.

"I am not saying the scope of our activities and experience is on par with R&D operations in Japan that were established more than 50 years ago. But as an organization, our U.S. facilities and the skill level of our engineers have achieved full citizenship in R&D which has real value to Honda as a global organization, "said Berkman.

Overall, the decision makes sense; after all, North America is Honda's largest market by far, with 34 percent of its global sales occurring in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. That means the company should be developing cars like the NSX and Civic here as close to those markets as possible. And both cars are crucial to Honda, even if they have different reasons for that.
The NSX is an exotic car that showcases the best of Honda engineering, performance and reliability. The company needs to regain some excitement, after it has suffered a bit of a confidence drop in the past years.

The Civic compact it its best seller worldwide, but the present version, introduced for the 2012 model year, was received with a few disappointed looks. Honda scrambled to make improvements for 2013, but a complete overhaul won't happen for another four years.

Berkman again: "If the perception is that we aren't winning in the marketplace, we aren't happy. We all know that second place is the first loser. So we have some work to do. "

John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of sales, states that "As our sales momentum continues to build through the summer, Honda is experiencing its best year-to-date sales in four years. With success growing along with inventory, it's wonderful to once again be able to meet the strong retail customer demand for our great Honda products."

The Japanese automaker is hoping this fall's launch of the next generation 2013 Honda Accord will instill new life into the brand.
PHOTO GALLERY
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