Official: Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America

Filed under: Budget, Hybrid, Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchback, Honda

2015 Honda Fit RS

2015 Honda Fit HybridHonda has officially launched the Fit sub-compact in its home market, ahead of its eventual arrival in North America. The third-generation Fit is wildly important for Honda, with the company’s president, Takanobu Ito, saying, “This is the most important model.”

The third-generation Fit is a ground-up reworking of the car that we’ve come to know. It will pioneer Honda’s new design language, Exciting H Design (seriously) and will also be the very first Fit to be manufactured in North America. Thanks to a Mexican factory that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, Honda will be able to produce 200,000 Fits for the North American market in North America, saving the brand a huge amount of cash.

As for that Exciting H Design, it’s meant to be sleeker and more modern, according to Automotive News. It’s not bad looking, but the overall design is far less important than what’s under that hood. The vehicle you see above is a Fit RS, which has quite a resemblance to the rumored Fit Mugen. There’s not a lot of detail on this model, but based on looks alone, we certainly hope it’ll be coming to the North American market – it’d make a great Fit Sport. A hybrid variant will also come to the US market, and that car is returning impressive numbers on the Japanese cycle: 86 miles per gallon so far, thanks to the combination of an 1.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. That’s a 35-percent improvement over the current, JDM Fit Hybrid.

Indeed, if the Fit Hybrid can return anything near those numbers on the US EPA cycle, it should do well. Ito’s demands for improved economy are part of what has him believing that Honda will eventually move 1.5 million Fits by 2016. The Honda boss is also expecting the B-segment car to become the brand’s best seller, overall, surpassing the Civic, CR-V and Accord. Those are some big expectations.

Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 13:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America

Filed under: Budget, Hybrid, Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchback, Honda

2015 Honda Fit RS

2015 Honda Fit HybridHonda has officially launched the Fit sub-compact in its home market, ahead of its eventual arrival in North America. The third-generation Fit is wildly important for Honda, with the company’s president, Takanobu Ito, saying, “This is the most important model.”

The third-generation Fit is a ground-up reworking of the car that we’ve come to know. It will pioneer Honda’s new design language, Exciting H Design (seriously) and will also be the very first Fit to be manufactured in North America. Thanks to a Mexican factory that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, Honda will be able to produce 200,000 Fits for the North American market in North America, saving the brand a huge amount of cash.

As for that Exciting H Design, it’s meant to be sleeker and more modern, according to Automotive News. It’s not bad looking, but the overall design is far less important than what’s under that hood. The vehicle you see above is a Fit RS, which has quite a resemblance to the rumored Fit Mugen. There’s not a lot of detail on this model, but based on looks alone, we certainly hope it’ll be coming to the North American market – it’d make a great Fit Sport. A hybrid variant will also come to the US market, and that car is returning impressive numbers on the Japanese cycle: 86 miles per gallon so far, thanks to the combination of an 1.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. That’s a 35-percent improvement over the current, JDM Fit Hybrid.

Indeed, if the Fit Hybrid can return anything near those numbers on the US EPA cycle, it should do well. Ito’s demands for improved economy are part of what has him believing that Honda will eventually move 1.5 million Fits by 2016. The Honda boss is also expecting the B-segment car to become the brand’s best seller, overall, surpassing the Civic, CR-V and Accord. Those are some big expectations.

Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 13:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Quick Spin: 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Honda, Quick Spins

2013 Honda Civic Hybrid

Even after Honda’s Great Emergency Refresh of 2013, it still takes a sharp eye to spot the visual differences between the 2013 Honda Civic and its 2012 counterpart. While annual styling changes used to be commonplace back in the 1950s and ’60s, this has become a much rarer practice in the industry due to the high costs of doing so, and sets the tone for just how important the Civic is in the Honda lineup.

One thing that hasn’t changed for the Civic is the wide selection of models available including the fuel-efficient HF, Natural Gas and Hybrid models. For this Quick Spin, I spent a week with the 2013 Civic Hybrid, which has always been a kind of un-Prius with its more-conventional sedan styling. The Civic’s top-mpg offering now finds itself under fire from newer rivals like the Chevy Cruze (Eco and Diesel) and VW Jetta (TDI and Hybrid). With the growing number of hybrids, diesels and high-fuel-economy gas models car buyers currently have at their disposal, if you’ve been clamoring for more fuel-efficient cars in recent years, now’s the time to be putting your money where your mouth is.

Driving Notes:

  • The only part of the 2013 Civic Hybrid that was left alone, was the one area it could have used a little modernization: Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist system. On the fuel economy front, sandwiching the 27-horsepower motor between the 110-hp 1.5-liter engine and the CVT returns EPA estimates of 44 miles per gallon for city and highway, which is far better than the mild-hybrid eAssist system used by General Motors but not as advanced as other hybrids in this segment. Unlike eAssist, Honda says that the motor can send power directly to the front wheels (but only during deceleration as a way to lessen the load on the engine), but unlike a more advanced hybrid, the Civic can’t accelerate under all-electric power. Honda stepped up its game with a new lithium-ion battery for 2012, but it needs to come up with an equally advanced answer for the rest of the system.
  • The advantage of IMA, though, is a less intrusive hybrid experience. Except for the stop-start system, the only way most drivers will really know this is a hybrid is by how much better it is at the pump. During my week with the car, I was pleasantly surprised at how the Civic never ‘felt’ like a hybrid but returned excellent fuel economy. Based on the in-cluster estimates I averaged just over 40 mpg on the highway, and in the city my numbers were consistently above the official 44-mpg rating.
  • Aside from the powertrain, Honda made numerous small improvements that paid off big time with the styling of the 2013 Civic sedan lineup. The exterior received new fascias, taillights and a modified decklid to give all sedan models a more mature appearance, and the Civic Hybrid probably comes off as the most stylish of the Civic models now with its grinning chrome grille, LED running lights and the clear-lens, light-pipe taillights.
  • Interior updates were equally subtle but make a huge difference in terms of comfort and style, such as the added padding to the door panels for added comfort, the reworked instrument panel with a cleaner, less awkward design and much better HVAC controls. Despite being a big step up from 2012, the 2013 Civic’s interior is still a step behind class leaders (in roominess and styling). All of these interior and exterior changes were most likely already in the product pipeline as a midcycle refresh, so it will be interesting to see how Honda updates this design in another couple years.
  • Starting at $24,360, the Civic Hybrid has about the same premium as most hybrids or diesels in this class, but my fully loaded tester with navigation and leather came out to $27,850. This is still a reasonable price for such a well-equipped car in this market, but for dedicated green-car enthusiasts, it might be a little too close to new plug-in or full-EV models to warrant the price.
  • Considering that a Civic Hybrid buyer could have just as easily bought a Civic Si, I’m not going to harp on the Hybrid too much, but the 110-hp engine and the equally buzz-killing CVT don’t make for an exciting car. Still, going back to the IMA, the true saving grace of this system is that it doesn’t add too much weight. At 2,879 pounds, the Civic Hybrid weighs almost the same as the non-hybrid Civic EX-L. In terms of braking, the weight saving means better performance along with pedal feel that is neither too spongy or frightening.
  • A new feature for 2013 is a lane departure warning system that uses a forward-mounted camera to sense the road lines and flash a bright warning on the upper screen if the car swerves out of its lane. Unfortunately, this camera takes up an unusually vast amount of windshield real estate, which was obvious as I was pulling out into traffic on more than one occasion.
  • When it comes to the idea of small, fuel-efficient cars, I’ve always been in the diesel camp, but I also enjoy taking long road trips. Those with regular city commutes should appreciate Civic Hybrid as much for what it brings to the table (excellent fuel economy) as for what it leaves behind (an overly flashy “I’m a hybrid” design). There is no doubt that this refresh has bought the Civic some time to keep pace with other compact cars, but I think that as much that has changed in this segment in the last few years, Honda isn’t going to have much breathing room in this segment until the next-gen Civic can get here.

2013 Honda Civic Hybrid originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda demonstrates new Vehicle-to-Pedestrian safety tech [w/video]

Filed under: Safety, Technology, Videos, Acura, Honda

We’re fresh from a balmy rooftop deck in downtown Detroit, where Honda held a meeting this week to discuss and demonstrate a few upcoming advanced safety features. A clear focus of the mini event was the company’s new Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) technology, with a suite of Vehicle-to-Motorcycle (V2M) tech a significant second course.

With spirits still high from announcing the 2014 Odyssey as the first minivan to win the Top Safety Pick+ status from IIHS – and after seeing the application of new high-strength-steel sections of the Acura MDX body structure – Honda shared the fruits of some safety tech that is still in the research phase.

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Honda demonstrates new Vehicle-to-Pedestrian safety tech [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 11:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: New Odyssey ads feature Honda Vac, star power

Filed under: Minivan/Van, Marketing/Advertising, Videos, Honda, Humor

2014 Honda Odyssey HondaVac commercial

Honda has released a string of new ads highlighting its refreshed, 2014 Odyssey minivan. While the Japanese brand hasn’t started bragging about attaining the first Top Safety Pick+ for minivans, it’s all too happy to brag about another first – the world’s first van with a built-in vacuum cleaner.

In three spots, anthropomorphic children’s rubbish discusses the merits of the new minivan, only to be sucked up by the built-in vacuum, which is only available in the top-end Touring Elite model. There’s also quite a bit of star power floating around for those that watch a lot of TV. Neil Patrick Harris from Doogie Howser, MD and How I Met Your Mother voices a character in one of the spots, while Rainn Wilson from The Office stars in another. Take a look below for all three ads from Honda.

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New Odyssey ads feature Honda Vac, star power originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 17:04:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 Honda Odyssey first minivan to earn Top Safety Pick+ award [w/video]

Filed under: Minivan/Van, Safety, Videos, Honda

2014 Honda Odyssey IIHS crash test

You know an automaker is confident about the safety of its vehicles when it asks one of the top crash test agencies to destroy one of its newest models. That’s exactly what happened with the 2014 Honda Odyssey. According the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Honda requested that the agency run the updated Odyssey through its full barrage of tests, and for good reason.

Aside from slight styling upgrades and a new optional HondaVac built-in vacuum cleaner, the 2014 Odyssey was also given a more rigid passenger compartment using high-strength steel to help better protect occupants. It obviously worked. Following the crash tests, the 2014 Odyssey became the first minivan to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating, but, more importantly, it did so with “Good” ratings in all five crash categories (four “Goods” and one “Acceptable” are enough for the TSP+). Impressive.

Scroll down for the crash-test video from the IIHS along with a press release.

Continue reading 2014 Honda Odyssey first minivan to earn Top Safety Pick+ award [w/video]

2014 Honda Odyssey first minivan to earn Top Safety Pick+ award [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda invests $215M in Ohio Earth Dreams production

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Technology, Acura, Honda

Honda Ohio Operations

Honda has announced a $215 million investment in a pair of its Ohio operations, taking its total tally for North American operations up to $2.7 billion in three years. The announcement was made at the 2013 Center For Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.

$180 million of the investment is earmarked for Honda’s Anna, OH engine plant. The money will allow the facility to increase its aluminum die casting and increase production of Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology engines. Think of Earth Dreams as sort of like Mazda’s Skyactiv line, only ED is limited to a new line of engines, rather than a full suite of automotive components. Anna will also be getting a new technical center to train engineers, techs, and line workers on powertrain technology.

The remaining $35 million is slated for Honda’s main Ohio operations in Marysville. A 160,000-square-foot facility will be constructed near Honda’s current properties, which will house another technical training center to focus on automotive manufacturing. The new building will also house Honda’s North American Services group, as well as a new heritage center.

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Honda invests $215M in Ohio Earth Dreams production originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Aug 2013 17:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Auctions: eBay Find of the Day: Ayrton Senna’s 1993 Honda NSX

Filed under: Classics, Coupe, Performance, Auctions, Europe, Acura, Honda, Celebrities

1993 Acura NSX reportedly formerly owned by Ayrton Senna, is up for auction on eBay.

It’s not often that things owned by the late Ayrton Senna come up for sale, but the seller of this black-on-black 1993 Honda NSX (aka, Acura NSX) eBay find claims it was once owned by the Formula One legend, and that he left a footprint on the factory carpet that can still be seen today. (Footprint, or vacuum lines?…)

NSX no. T000999 was given to Senna as a gift from his mentor and sponsor, Antonio de Almeida Braga, the seller claims, and it was stored at a palace near the Estoril F1 circuit in Portugal. He also was known to drive two other NSXs, a black one and a red one – the latter in which he was seen often.

The seller claims to have owned T000999, which is still in Portugal, for 17 years, and the 31,000-mile odometer indicates it was driven about 1,500 miles per year on average. Thankfully the car has been kept stock, so whoever buys it can enjoy driving it just as Senna did – that is, if the car actually is what it’s claimed to be. If the story checks out, then this is one valuable NSX, which is reflected in the high minimum starting bid of 47,500 pounds ($73,620). There have been no bids at time of writing, but with nine days left in the auction, we’ll be keeping our eyes on this one.

Senna is credited with improving the development of the mid-engine Honda when he told engineers after a test drive that the car needed to be more rigid. After eight months more chassis development, the car was stiffer and the suspension was finely tuned to Senna’s satisfaction. The rest is history, as Honda stunned the world – and a few supercar manufacturers – soon after when it released the excellent NSX in 1990.

eBay Find of the Day: Ayrton Senna’s 1993 Honda NSX originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Aug 2013 11:26:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda Civic Tourer to debut at Frankfurt

Filed under: Frankfurt Motor Show, Spy Photos, Minivan/Van, Wagon, Europe, Honda

2014 Honda Civic Tourer Spy Photo

Honda will be bringing its new Civic Tourer to next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, just as we predicted in our spy shots of the new MPV from back in April. The new model, which will arrive in European dealers in 2014, will be built alongside Honda’s Euro-spec Civic hatchback, Jazz (Honda Fit) and CR-V in Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.

Honda first hinted at the Civic Tourer with a concept at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, which is set to do battle with the Toyota Auris and Volkswagen Golf in the European market. The production Civic Tourer will also be shown alongside a refreshed Civic hatchback, yet another NSX Concept variant, a McLaren MP4/4 Formula One car, and Honda’s World Touring Car Championship Civic.

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Honda Civic Tourer to debut at Frankfurt originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda reports $1.9 billion profit in first quarter despite sales lag at home

Filed under: Honda, Earnings/Financials

2013 Honda Civic badge

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have been living in a world of sunshine and buttercups after their April-through-June financials hit the newswire, and Toyota is doing pretty good as well. Honda? Not so much.

While Japan’s third-largest manufacturer saw $1.9 billion in profits, the 5.1-percent jump was lower than expected thanks to a drop in its home-market sales. US sales also took a sting, as Honda hasn’t been able to match the SUV and truck demand that are currently permeating the American market, despite an uptick in Accord sales.

Honda’s initial forecasts targeted a take of 209.3 billion yen ($2.1 billion at today’s rates), and while a $200 million shortfall is nothing to sniff at, we’d hardly take this as Honda being in trouble. And even with the dip, Honda hasn’t adjusted its forecast for the fiscal year, which remains at 780 billion yen ($7.9 billion).

Still, the cause of the problem for Honda isn’t one that’s easily solvable. Accord sales were strong, helping the brand move 745,578 vehicles during the first half of 2013, which is a six-percent improvement in year-over-year sales. Yet, Honda’s market share shrunk by 0.1 percent, and the Japanese manufacturer’s lack of competitive SUVs and pickups is worrying. In the short term, though, the arrival of the new Acura MDX in North American dealerships should deliver a small shot in the arm.

Honda’s home-market issues are also troubling, with Reuters reporting a 24-percent drop in sales, thanks to the discontinuation of government subsidies. All told, this isn’t the rosy outlook we’ve gotten used to since the latest batch of earnings came out.

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Honda reports $1.9 billion profit in first quarter despite sales lag at home originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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