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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Video: Nissan recruits Stormtroopers to promote Juke in Japan

Filed under: Japan, Marketing/Advertising, Crossover, Nissan

Nissan Juke configurator

The Juke is a matter of individual taste, to be sure, but Nissan is keen on making each one even more individual with the launch of the 15RX Personalized Package.

Nissan is promoting the customization available on the Juke in the Japanese Domestic Market with a dedicated website, complete with a rather slick online configurator. And to make the process that much more engaging, it’s included a Stormtrooper that changes in appearance along with the Juke. Which is fitting, seeing as how the quirky crossover looks like it belongs in a Star Wars movie as it is.

The package is being launched together with a new Star Wars-themed publicity campaign that is building an array of web movies, the latest of which you can view below, along with the press release that details the full campaign.

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Nissan recruits Stormtroopers to promote Juke in Japan originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 28 Aug 2013 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Toyota begins testing Segway-like Winglet in Japan [w/video]

Filed under: EV/Plug-in, Transportation Alternatives, Toyota, On Two Wheels, Japan

Toyota has just now started testing a two-wheeled Segway-like vehicle that it first trumpeted almost five years ago, but when the vehicle in question tops out at less then four miles per hour, these things do take time. Toyota’s Winglet, which the Japanese automaker first announced to the world in August 2008, has started public trials on the streets of Tsukuba, Japan, as the company looks to get more information on the stand-up vehicles safety and maneuverability.

The Winglet, Toyota says, is an illustration of the “development of a society where mobility is safe, freely accessible, and fun.” Tsukuba, which is 40 miles northeast of Tokyo (or, theoretically, about 12 hours by Winglet), is apropos because of its position as an “environmental model city.” The vehicle, which is said to have a single-charge range of about six miles and can be recharged in about an hour, is being tested on public sidewalks. So watch out, brave citizens of Tsukuba.

Meanwhile, read Toyota’s press release and check out footage of them in full flight by scrolling below.

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Toyota begins testing Segway-like Winglet in Japan [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 26 Jul 2013 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2014 Honda Accord Hybrid will get 49 mpg city in US, starts at $37,260 in Japan

Filed under: Hybrid, Honda

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid - black - front three-quarter view

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid JDM - front three-quarter viewTwo bits of news about the upcoming 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid have been released, but still not enough to have a complete picture of the revamped gas-electric that will come to the US this October.

First, and this applies to the US model, the Accord Hybrid has been given an estimated 49-miles-per-gallon EPA city fuel economy rating along with 45 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined thanks to some high-tech wizardry – a.k.a. two-motor hybrid powertrain – that is similar to what’s already available in the 115 MPGe Accord Plug-In. The Accord will be Honda’s first hybrid to be assembled in Marysville, OH. You’ll find many more details in the press release below.

Over in Japan, where we already knew fuel economy estimates, the story is a little more complete. Namely, that pricing for the new Accord Hybrid will start at 3,650,000 yen (US $37,260). That’s a whopping 610,000 yen ($6,227) more than the competition is charging for the Toyota Camry Hybrid and also a lot more than the standard Accord in Japan, which starts at around $25,500. Analysts say this price premium is “a good strategy” for the extra fuel economy and should keep the Accord nipping at the Camry’s heels, saleswise.

The big question is: does this help us guess how much the Accord Hybrid will cost stateside? Not really. Honda’s Jessica Fini told AutoblogGreen, “We don’t have pricing on the US version yet. That information will be available closer to the on-sale in October. It would be challenging to compare the Japan pricing strategy to what will happen with the US model since the markets are pretty different.” For example, she added, “The Accord in Japan is a premium model – in the article they compare it to a Lexus in the US – so that should also provide some perspective on how they are pricing it here. Certainly the US Accord has a different position here in the market.”

In the US, the standard Accord starts at $21,680 while the 2014 Plug-In begins at $39,780, and we’re pretty certain the hybrid will slot between the two. Bold prediction, right?

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2014 Honda Accord Hybrid will get 49 mpg city in US, starts at $37,260 in Japan originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 21 Jun 2013 16:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Quake damaged paint plant comes back online in Japan

Filed under: Government/Legal, Plants/Manufacturing, Safety

red paint lincoln mks

The March 11 earthquake and resultant tsunami in Japan rocked the country’s automotive supply chain, leaving many suppliers with damaged factories and unreliable power. One nearly immediate impact was that automakers like Ford, Toyota and Chrysler could no longer offer colors like red or black.

That’s because Merck’s Onahama factory, which makes the Xirallic pigment used to add luster to colors, was damaged by the natural disaster. But while repairs were scheduled to take longer, The Detroit News reports that the facility was fixed ahead of schedule and production has resumed.

Peter Halas, who heads Pigments and Cosmetics at Merck, said in a statement that the timely repair of the factory was a major achievement, adding “I would like to thank our employees in Japan for their tremendous efforts.”

Merck says that the Onahama facility, which is 36 miles south of the badly damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, is outside of the evacuation area, and the company will adhere to public directives to ensure the safety of employees. The company is also testing products from the plant to comply with safety standards.

To help prevent future shortages of Xirallic, Merck says it plans to establish another production site in Germany for the popular pigment.

Quake damaged paint plant comes back online in Japan originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 10 May 2011 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lexus boss Templin says brand to lose luxury sales crown over Japan quake

Filed under: Japan, Lexus, Luxury

mark templin lexus vp Lexus has been the king of luxury car sales in the U.S. for over a decade, but Toyota’s high-end brand will likely lose its crown in 2011, due at least in part to the March 11 earthquake in Japan.

Certainly, Lexus was already facing a great deal of pressure from rivals like BMW and Buick, but Automotive News reports that Toyota VP and Lexus Group Manager Mark Templin says dealers are down to a 30-day supply of most models, and that vehicle shortages will be felt as early as this week. The problem is that some key components from Japan come from plants that are still shut down as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The Lexus CT 200h is reportedly close to sold out due to the issues.

Further complicating matters is the fact that Lexus ramped up the leasing business three years ago, and those customers will soon be bringing back their luxury rides in large numbers. That’s good news for dealers looking for products to sell, but it’s bad for customers who may not have the ability to purchase a new Lexus model.

The automaker is looking to ease this issue by offering six-month lease extensions. At the same time, Templin knows many customers will simply purchase their lease vehicle outright, and he’s asking dealers not to gouge those customers. The fear is that a shortage of models will result in more demand than supply, which could then jack up the price of Lexus models to unreasonable levels.

Since the automaker appears to be out of the running for the 2011 luxury sales crown, it seems natural that Lexus will come back with a vengeance in 2012. But Templin says the automaker may never again grab the sales crown, since luxury car makers are aiming down-market to improve corporate fuel economy averages. Templin opines that it won’t be long before a luxury car maker hits 500,000 sales in a year.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]

Lexus boss Templin says brand to lose luxury sales crown over Japan quake originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Apr 2011 16:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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PSA: Japan automakers have lost half a million units since quake

Filed under: Etc., Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota

Damaged Suzuki vehicles

According to Automotive News, Japanese automakers have seen their production drop by over 500,000 units since the March 11 earthquake struck the island nation. In the month since the disaster, the country’s seven largest automakers lost around 516,000 units of production due to damage to production facilities and supplier delays. Toyota has been the hardest hit, with a loss of 260,000 units as of April 8. The automaker has a total of 18 domestic manufacturing facilities, and while two of those are back online, the remainder won’t open their doors until at least April 18. Even then, the plants may shut down again after April 27.

Honda, Suzuki, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi are all operating on some level, though production is an on-again, off-again affair. As an example, Nissan has managed to re-open all five of its Japanese facilities, though production has been scaled back to half-pace for the time being. There’s no word as to when full production will ramp up once again.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.| Image: Wally Santana/AP]

PSA: Japan automakers have lost half a million units since quake originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 13 Apr 2011 17:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Toyota to resume production at half-speed across Japan on April 18

Filed under: Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Toyota

Toyota Prius production line in Japan

With the exception of the facility that makes the Prius, Toyota plants in Japan have been closed following the earthquake disaster in Japan, but that is scheduled to change by April 18. The Associated Press is reporting that Toyota will resume production that day, though assembly lines will only work at half speed. The plants will run through April 27, when they will close again until May 9 to honor Japan’s Golden Week holiday. That’s a fairly short production window, but the move is likely welcome news to Toyota’s rank and file. The automaker has already lost 260,000 units since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Toyota’s plan to restart production comes as the automaker continues to struggle to procure parts needed for production. Toyota’s parts situation has improved, however, as the AP reports that problem part counts have gone from 500 to under 150.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda acknowledges that parts supply issues are still hurting the automaker, but adds “we are doing our utmost to improve the conditions so that we can deliver cars to many customers.”

[Source: Associated Press via Daily Tribune | Image: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty]

Report: Toyota to resume production at half-speed across Japan on April 18 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 08 Apr 2011 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ford to idle first plant as a result of Japan disaster

Filed under: Truck, Plants/Manufacturing, Ford

ford super duty

2011 Ford F-450 Lariat – Click above for high-res image gallery

Ford hasn’t said much about its supply situation in the wake of the earthquake in Japan, but now the automaker has no choice but to spill the beans. The Detroit News reports that Ford will shut down its Louisville, Kentucky plant next week due to a parts shortage. The facility produces the Ford Expedition, Ford Super Duty trucks, and the Lincoln Navigator. Ford sales analyst George Pipas did not identify the part that was in short supply, though he did add that high gas prices have helped slow sales of these vehicles anyway.

Ford will also shut down its Flat Rock, Michigan plant, where the Mustang is produced, because the automaker already has a 116-day supply of the pony car. In Europe, Ford will idle the Genk, Belgium plant that produces the Mondeo, S Max and Galaxy minivan to help prevent future shortages.

Ford announced that events in Japan could further affect future production, but at this point it isn’t interested in divulging the extent of its supply issues. Ford is actively searching for other parts sources wherever possible.

Gallery: Review: 2011 Ford F-450 Lariat

Photos copyright (C)2010 Sam Abuelsamid / AOL

[Source: The Detroit News]

Ford to idle first plant as a result of Japan disaster originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 02 Apr 2011 16:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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