What IS Going On At Honda?
Why is the Japanese automaker falling behind Korea's Hyundai?
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: August 12th, 2011
Three decades ago, Honda produced the first set of Civics, and captured the small-car world with an appeal of innovation and smart engineering. Today, following natural disaster and market catastrophe, the Japanese automaker is falling behind its Korean counterpart Hyundai, and seems to have been just holding on the past few years. What is going on at Honda?
Related Vehicles: hyundai elantra | honda civic
Honda still produces great automobiles at a price consumers can afford, and that is a certainty. Yet, the past few years the company has been on a decline, and has failed to build upon their game-changing practicum—building smart and fuel-efficient cars that are reliable. What Honda has failed to add to their winning equation, and what other small-compact car makers are taking note of—is interior quality and all around driving fun.
Yes, this year’s new 2012 Honda Civic has had less than great reviews. As early as its debut at the New York Auto Show in April, critics have universally characterized its interior as cheap and plastic. The car may still garner innovative fuel efficiency, but so do competitor’s models like Hyundai—who have gone the extra mile in making their cars appealing.
Honda’s image has been further tarnished following Consumer Report’s move to give the 2012 Civic a “thumbs-down” rating, while moving it a worrisome 11th on a list of 12 of the best small sedans in the U.S. The watchdog did not only attack the interior, but also lambasted the model for lackluster steering, braking, cornering, and excessive road noise. [Source]
"The problems that really hurt the Civic's score run deeper and they showed up at our test track. Stopping distances are long. The steering is lightly weighted and comes up short on feedback. Body lean appears early in the corners. The ride is marred by frequent short pitches. And road noise still remains an annoying companion," reported Consumer Reports.
Despite the reviews on the 2012 Civic, and an observable decline in product performance over the past few years, Honda is still a major player in the U.S. market. As of 2010, the company accounts for 10.7 percent of U.S. market share, treading the company as the nations No.4 vehicle manufacturer. Three-fourths of its current main models—the Accord, Civic and CR-V, are typically the first or second pick of U.S. consumers in their class.
Regardless of the market share, Honda faces real competition and problems from Automakers like Hyundai. Awarded “most Improved brand” by J.D Power, Hyundai is taking on Honda by building just as reliable vehicles that seem to just have more appeal.
"It's great news for Hyundai," J.D. Power's director of automotive research, Raffi Festekjian, said. "Reliability is important. But you know what? You still need to make a vehicle that is appealing, fun to drive, and comfortable to sit in." [Source]
it not a lost cause for Honda. They can redeem themselves by just putting a little more effort into making their cars appeal to new and young drivers who want a vehicle that is smart for gas prices, but still looks good while doing it. With the debut of a new Accord model next year, Honda can learn from its recent misfortunes and improve. If not, the automaker could find itself in a similar position as automakers of the past—loved by brand loyalists who remember the golden days while passed up by a majority of consumers.