Takanobo Ito Q+A

Takanobo Ito
1 Dec, 2011 10:20am Graham Hope

We speak to Honda’s CEO about how he plans to tackle poor sales in Europe

Why does Honda not have an A-sector (city) car in Europe? Do you have any plans to introduce one?

Currently we know we are not doing that well in Europe, but we believe we need to be there because it is the market that thinks most seriously about cars. We will continue with sales of the Jazz, and look at the CO2 issue with the low-emissions model (the hybrid). After that the next thing we will think about is the A-segment equivalent.

Honda’s SH-AWD prototype promises V8 power in a V6. Does that mean there will never be more than six-cylinder engines from Honda?

Honda has never had V8 engines. We did consider a V8 pick-up or passenger vehicle in the US, but what we wanted to do was offer a small engine with large performance. We know there are customers who like V8s but we believe it is better to put advanced tech into a V6.

Honda’s sports car focus at the moment is concentrating on electric power. Does that mean the S2000 will be the last Honda sports car with a petrol engine?

What we want to do is show that driving an EV can be enjoyable. That’s why we took the challenge of making a sports car out of an EV. We are studying whether to put the EV-STER to market. But maybe we could have an internal combustion engine with that styling.

Why is Honda “not doing that well in Europe”? And do you think designing cars in Europe would improve things?

We simply have not been earnest enough in looking at Europe. We have lacked attention. We have been too focused on emerging markets like China and Asia. But without Europe you do not have emerging markets. In terms of styling, Europe is the most challenging market. There is lots of diversity, competition is fierce. In order for us to be appreciated, we need to do some research there.

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Even I can figure out some of the stuff they've been doing wrong - as touched on by the article:

No low emission or diesel version of the Jazz
Killed off the S2000 without a replacement despite its cult status and following
Replaced once good looking cars with styling eye-sores (eg Civic, Accord)
Make us wait forever regarding sports versions then either don't put them into production or the end result is disappointing.
Tried to demand a premium for their cars despite the cars not having a premium image.

So if Mr Ito is listening - I'll have a new light weight S2000 for me with at least 250BHP and a diesel Jazz for the wife - but I don't want to pay over the odds for either!

I ve owned Honda's and like them as a company, but they they really lack exciting driver focused models these days. No S2000, Integra/Civic/Accord Type R's, Prelude, NSX etc. They are being outsold in Europe by Suzuki! I agree with some of what is said by the comments above although I would point out that there is a low emission Jazz (the overpriced hybrid!) - and its the reason you'll never see a diesel Jazz. Honda need to take at look at some of their past motoring greats for inspiration.

My experience suggests that HONDA needs to address poor noise suppression, poor suspension adsorbancy, poor security, poor customer relations at top of HONDA UK, starting with the MD, K.W.Kier and work their way down.
Then attend to lesser maladies

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