Honda RC-E Concept is a Breath of Fresh Air

The Crosstour, the CR-Z, the Insight, and the redesigned Civic all point to Honda losing the plot when it comes to making cars. But, out of the Tokyo Auto Show this year, comes a glimmer of hope from their motorcycle concept the RC-E. The RC-E is simply put, the prettiest bike to come out of Honda in a long time, production or concept. It also happens to be electric.

A far cry from the bloat and mediocrity of Honda’s current cars and bikes, the RC-E is a slender, simple piece of rolling art that is also environmentally friendly. Designed with a modern twist on 70’s superbike aesthetics, the concept points to a future where electric power isn’t only easy on the environment, but also your eyes. It also means that deep in the bowels of Honda lie a group of engineers and designers who still know how to make products that break away from mediocrity in the pursuit of something more.

However, this bike is only a concept, and will probably never be produced. Honda’s tagline used to be “The Power of Dreams,” but let’s hope that dreams of the RC-E (and a return to form for Honda in general) become a reality.


Honda CEO Disappointed with Crosstour Sales

In a meeting at the 2011 Tokyo International Auto Show, Tetsuo Iwamura, Honda USA President and CEO, remarked that he was frustrated with slow sales of Honda’s Crosstour stating:

“In the case of the Crosstour, I’m really disappointed because that’s a nice car, [with] very beautiful styling, and it gives very good driving performance as well as packaging. But yet, we went a bit too far.”

Honda wanted to sell 40,000 units of the “lifestyle” crossover, but managed to move only 25,000 in 2010. This year they have only managed to move 16,679. Iwamura is confident that Crosstour sales can be salvaged with further improvements, but I have a different idea for Mr. Iwamura.

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2011 Honda CR-Z 3DR EX Navi Gallery

The Honda CR-Z EX NAVI is a hybrid that is reviewing and they say that the looks of this sporty car are eye catching. BE’s test model is north shore blue with gray interior and boasts a six-speed manual transmission including three driving modes of normal, sport and eco.

Check out the full photo gallery of the 2011 Honda CR-Z 3DR EX Navi and watch out for our upcoming review on Bullz-Eye!


How Far the Mighty Have Fallen

In a recent Consumer Reports test, the new Honda Civic scored too low for them to recommend. The Honda Civic has long been a CR darling for an infuriatingly long time, until now. They report:

So what happened? The new Civic feels insubstantial with a cheap interior. You don’t get much feature content for the $19,405 that our Civic LX automatic costs, either. That’s a problem given the high bar set in this class by the new-to-market Chevrolet Cruze, the redesigned-for-2012 Ford Focus, and the redesigned-for-2011 Hyundai Elantra.

But a savvy buyer could sit in a showroom and realize those Civic shortcomings. 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.

So, why now? Well, the Civic is fresh off a lukewarm redesign that saw a few bits like the interior and exterior tweaked, while the engine and suspension were either unchanged or softened. These changes were somehow deemed sufficient against an incredibly strong field of competitors. It is almost as if Honda was a procrastinating college freshmen during finals time. They waited until the last night, got drunk, and then tried to turn in what they did last time.

The worst part of this news is the timing. The Civic’s mediocrity comes during the strongest small car market to date. The Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, are ALL better then the dowdy Civic and the geriatric Corolla. At least the Civic is still ahead of the dreadful new VW Jetta.

It is with mixed feelings that this news is viewed. It is saddening to see what was once such a fine product be tarnished by ignorant product planners. Such talent wasted. It is especially to hard to realize that what made Honda great – clean styling, great driving dynamics, in a cheap and efficient package- is gone. It is like watching your favorite sports star phone it in on the court, night after night, or like the career of LeBron James.

On the other hand, this news brings much glee. Now, it is out in the open about the Civic and Honda’s mediocrity. For far too long, they have ridden reputation and marketing to hold onto their spot in the marketplace, instead of having a superior product. The domestic and Korean competition has been leagues better, yet the ignorant car buying public refused to see the evidence. Now, there is nowhere to turn. The most objective source available has called your “tried and true choice” a turd. People will ignore the new version and instead shop for used Honda Civics or another brand.

So yes, a bit of schadenfreude is in order. It is enjoyable to see a car that was undeserving of its praise be knocked down a few pegs. It is also enjoyable to see companies like Ford, Chevy, and Hyundai receive the recognition they deserve for doing the math and making great cars. Here’s also hoping that this news spurs Honda to start making great cars again, instead of using marketing muscle to spin their way to undeserved praise.

Source: Consumer Reports


Honda nearing full production in U.S. by August

Honda’s American plants look to hit near full speed by August. There has to be a sigh of relief for dealers nationwide as shortages were expected to last much longer.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Honda’s North American factories will return to near-normal production in August, the company said Thursday, much faster than expected following supply disruptions.

The flow of auto parts was interrupted after Japanese factories were damaged by a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, or stricken by the power outages that followed. Shortages have affected nearly every carmaker, but have struck hardest at Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.

Last month, Honda cut production to about half the normal level because of falling parts supplies. It warned dealers of model shortages and said full production might not resume until the end of the year.

But Honda now says that the situation in Japan is improving. Factories can ramp up to full production on a plant-by-plant basis — except for those that build the new Civic compact.

Read the full article.


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