It wasn’t that many years ago that automaker Honda could do no wrong. It was the darling of the Consumer Reports staff, but it was also loved by tuners for building affordable but entertaining cars. And then something went wrong. Product quality began to slip, younger buyers avoided Honda dealerships in droves and even Consumer Reports began to say bad things about Honda’s latest crop of cars.
One industry insider I know likened the new Civic to a “Chinese copy of an older Honda Civic, complete with acres of hard plastic.” That seems a far cry from the Civics of old, which left buyers wondering how Honda fit so much content and refinement into such an affordable package.
Honda is (already) tired of fielding complaints about the new Civic, and in the words of John Mendel, American Honda’s executive vice president, “We take feedback seriously, regardless of who it’s from, and we will act accordingly quickly.” In the case of the new Honda Civic, acting quickly could mean a mid-cycle refresh as early as 2013, but that’s a long time to wait when consumers aren’t buying your products.
The new Civic was practically doomed from the start. After the global economic collapse of 2009, Honda’s CEO Takanobu Ito froze the redesign where it was, approved a shorter wheelbase and requested reduced content to appeal to a more price conscious consumer base. Worse, the launch of the new car was disrupted by the March earthquake and tsunami, further impacting sales by creating product shortages.
Overall, Honda has a remarkable track record of releasing class-leading cars that give consumers substantial value for the money. Even automakers can have a bad day from time to time, so we’ll forgive Honda for the new Civic while wishing them the best of luck on its redesign.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)