Honda had been, on these pages and elsewhere, accused of perpetrating vehicular boredom. At the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda even admitted its sins: “Frankly speaking we think that in the past few years the cars have been a bit boring,” creative director of Honda’s styling design development division Yoshinori Asahi told the Sidney Morning Herald.
A remorseful Honda president Takanobu Ito now tells The Nikkei [sub] that the criticism was warranted and that things will change. First, however, Ito denies responsibility for the flagrant boredom, using the trite and true “I just followed orders” defense:
“We divided the world into six regions, and Honda’s regional operations were each responsible for their respective regions. Whenever we planned a product for the global market, our thinking was that we needed to listen to each regional supervisor. So our development staff was just taking orders. When you harmonize all the different opinions, you end up with a safe, boring car.”
Nonetheless, matters will change for the better, Ito swears on a stack of non-existing Shinto-bibles:
“We will work on highly distinctive vehicles that are solid in environmental friendliness and safety. This strategy will be represented by our effort to make vehicles more sporty. Through such moves, we will stimulate not just the market, but our company as well. When I took charge of Honda’s automobile operations in April 2011, I had three corporate officers each supervise luxury, midsize and small vehicles. Putting more authority in their hands, I asked them to create more competitive autos and to speed up coordination with product planning and regional operations. I set up a structure that would allow them to take the lead in realizing the wishes of the development team. The fruits of these moves will begin to appear in the market next fiscal year.”
Stocks of makers of tranquilizers dropped on the news, but recovered later in the trading session.