By on January 31, 2012

When the March 11 tsunami hit, observers thought that of Japan’s major automakers, Honda would be the least exposed. Most of its global production already is outside of Japan. Very few cars that are produced in Japan are exported. Toyota and Nissan looked much more vulnerable. Distrust predictions: Today, Honda presented the results for the last quarter of 2011. The numbers  look uglier than the cars in the video.

In the October-December quarter, Honda’s operating profit dropped 65 percent to 44.3 billion yen ($580 million). Analysts polled by Reuters had expected twice as much. For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, Honda expects an operating profit of 200 billion yen ($2.6 billion), down 65 percent from the year before. In August 2011, Honda had forecasted 270 billion yen. That was before the Thai floods hit.

Top Three Japanese Automakers,  Calendar 2011
(Thousand units. Source: company reports)

Comparing the full year 2011 production numbers (first column: unit production 2011 in thousands, second column: change to 20-10,)  Honda emerges as the worst hit of Japan’s bigger makers. It lost 20 percent of total production. Toyota lost only 8.2 percent, Nissan added 14.3 percent. Despite having most of its production outside of the country, Honda soon emerged as the most unlucky tsunami victim. Parts shortages affected production the world over.

Then in fall last year, Thailand was inundated by a record flood. While other Japanese makers suffered outages due to parts shortages, Honda’s Thai plant was submerged for months and is a near total write-off.

There were more disasters. The high yen had and has all Japanese makers on edge, so did the tanking Japanese market. Only Honda has a remodeled Civic which “got panned in the United States when it was remodeled last year,” as Reuters put it.
Toyota will report on February 7, Nissan on February 8. We will see what their numbers bring. Have a look at the table above  and guess.

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10 Comments on “After Two Floods, Honda Tanks, Nissan Soars...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Don’t make more than lawnmowers, generators(which should have been a boom during a power outage type crisis), and jet engines? No Honda bank?

    Or most to blame on lack luster Civic, recalled RAV, Acura who?, falling short Insight hybrid?

    Is HMC the next Saab?

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Honda has had a bit of back luck in the past year, that’s for sure. Then again, Honda’s problems are more structural than some “acts of god.” I drive a 1999 Accord, which at the time was a very competitive D-segment car. IMO the best at the time. Thru the late 90′s and early 00′s Honda was a true class leader in many of their offerings; Accord, Civic, CRV, Odyssey.

    Today the ONLY vehicle Honda offers that’s best in class is probably the Odyssey, in a very miniscule minivan marketplace. A co-worker just bought a new Focus to replace her Civic. She didn’t even cross shop the new Civic, “It’s Ugly” she said. That is Honda’s problem. I wouldn’t even consider the current Accord because it’s big and ugly and nothing that my ’99 model was.

    The Ridgeline is a joke to truck buyers, the Insight is a total flop compared to the Prius, the Pilot took a backwards step in design and is no longer competitive, Accord Crosstour??!! The whole brand is a mess and that’s not even talking about Acura.

    10 years ago I would’ve said there is a 90+% chance I get another Honda for a daily driver. Today I wouldn’t even consider them. Unless the new Accord is amazing, and I mean truly amazing, i.e. smaller, lighter, and equipped better than the new Fusion promises to be they won’t even get a passing glance from me. Sorry Honda, you have failed me.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      If Honda does make a 4 door version of their current NA Accord Coupe without making it ugly, they can probably pull out of their dive. Compared to the Accord sedan, the current coupe is smaller and reasonably attractive.
      http://automobiles.honda.com/accord-coupe/exterior-photos.aspx
      As recently as 2008 the related Acura TL was a good looking car that sold well. Ugly, not floods, is what’s killing Honda.

    • 0 avatar

      Honda does have problems as 200k-min describes. I just bought an ’08 Civic–probably would have bought a new one if the new ones hadn’t been dumbed down. I agree completely about the new Accord.

      I do like the styling of the Insight — a lot. And I do like that there is a TSX wagon. Now if only they’d offer it with a stick.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Am I truly the only guy in the world who likes the current Accord sedan? Maybe I need to be medicated so that I can approach normality.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        About a million private buyers agree with you on the current Accord sedan. It is pretty darn big for something called an Accord, but that’s the class it plays in now. I met a couple that won the rental lotto and were issued one for a long weekend that involved about a thousand miles of driving. They got it to keep miles off their luxury lease, but they couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful it was and how they couldn’t believe how far it could go on a tank of gas. It was a 4-cylinder with half the power of their regular car, but they preferred everything about it except the loss of the effortless ability to shoot from 60 to 100 mph while passing.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Honda makes ugly, noncompetitive, cheaply made cars and rests on its laurels of ONCE offering a class-leading, fun to drive reliable product.

    Japanese car buyers are stupid and it takes some to keep buying an Accord or Camry (maybe 10-15 years) before they realize that the competition has not only caught up, but surpassed them and the only “advantage” of a Japanese car (most are now made stateside) is the price premium the supposed reliability and engineering costs you at the dealer.

    I would still buy a Japanese car (just bought a Subaru) but they’ll have a hard time convincing me that it’d be worth the price premium Honda has always lorded over the competition.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    The Civic seems to be selling better than anyone gives it credit for.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Start the flame wars!

    We were set to buy a Fiesta as our second family car until I see reliability data. Honda Fit is top of the list now. Honda still carries the reliability torch and get high resale values in our area.

  • avatar
    niky

    I don’t get all the Accord hate, either. I mean, I’d never buy one, simply because a Mazda6 is more exciting to drive, but compared to the likes of the Camry or the Sonata, the former of which is cheaper-looking inside and the latter of which is much smaller… the Accord is a great, no-nonsense family car.

    Same with the Fit. The class has moved on beyond it, but the magic ULT seats, exceptional space and great motor still make it compelling.

    Honda has had a very bad year. And while their product mix is aging and competitors have now caught up with and even surpassed them in some areas, they’re nowhere close to 80′s or 90′s GM badness.


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