By on February 29, 2016

2016 Honda Civic Sedan, Image: © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

The CEO of Honda is pulling the car over and giving a stern lecture to the kids in the backseat.

That, a Scion gets a corporate makeover, Google goes in for autonomous feng shui, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is drowning in modules and a famous British racetrack could get even Britisherafter the break!

2017 Honda Ridgeline front 3/4

Honda wages war on “design by committee”

Having too many cooks is spoiling the product soup, warns Honda Motor Company CEO Takahiro Hachigo in Reuters.

To speed up the development of new vehicles, Hachigo is separating Honda’s design team from its marketing team and telling both to stay in their respective corners.

The new direction aims to have employees focus solely on what they’re good at, which Hachigo hopes will result in more appealing products and fewer “watered-down” designs.

Surely, anyone who remembers the Accords and Civics of the mid-2000s won’t know what he’s talking about.

2017 Toyota C-HR leaked photo

Toyota brings out the funk

A Scion concept no longer, the production-ready Toyota C-HR has been leaked in photos obtained by Carscoops.

The funky-looking four-door crossover, which will debut at this week’s 2016 Geneva Motor Show, is a toned-down version of a Scion-badged concept shown at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

While the crossover has lost some of its dune buggy-inspired proportions in the development process, enough edginess remains for Toyota to effectively battle competitors like the froggish Nissan Juke and humdrum Honda HR-V.

No one is going to mistake it for a RAV4, either.

Google Car

Google Car, please, hold the velour

Woodgrain and leather, or plastic and … plastic?

Google must want to know, because the company is actively seeking automotive interior designers for its self-driving car project, Business Insider reports.

The job for an engineering lead to head the effort, posted (where else?) on Google, calls for someone who will work closely with all other areas of the vehicle team. Given that Google has said it plans to develop the self-driving technology to license to other manufacturers, will production of its interiors go the same route?

And will there be ashtrays?

Ralph Gilles, global design chief, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

What America wants: less modules

Our kingdom for a cheaper module!

That’s the desperation-tinged cry of Ralph Gilles, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles global design chief, in a revealing talk published by Automotive News.

Gilles, speaking at a recent Canada-U.S. Original Equipment Suppliers Association dinner, bemoaned the high cost of producing tech-laden vehicles and appealed to suppliers to help bring that expense down.

Sourcing too many modules has made production costs for vehicles like the upcoming 2017 Chrysler Pacifica “freakishly expensive,” he said, adding that consolidation of modules could be the answer. Unspoken in his remarks is an implicit threat that should a domestic solution not be found, cheaper, overseas parts could be the answer.

Or, to put it a happier way, if we all come together, there’ll be happiness across the land.

1990 British Grand Prix at Silverstone

New parent for Silverstone Circuit?

The home of the British Grand Prix might be getting a new owner that couldn’t be more British.

Jaguar Land Rover Group would become the owner of the historic track if a deal made to members of the British Racing Drivers’ Club goes through, reports Autosport. The BRDC has owned the track — formerly a Second World War Royal Air Force base — since 1971.

If the deal comes to pass, new ownership would mean upgrades for the historic, privately-funded circuit, which first hosted the British Grand Prix in 1948. For the present owners, much like Great Britain in the 1970s, cash flow had become a problem.

[Image: Top, © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars; Silverstone, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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36 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Honda Separates the Kids, Toyota Funks It Up, and the Costs Are Too Damn High at FCA...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Hello Newsbot. You look different for some reason, did you do something to your hair?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Toyota C-HR. People thought the Camaro looked cartoonish? This thing, if it comes to market as it appears in the photo will put that thought to rest forever!

    Actually, I’m rather intrigued by the C-HR. At least it’s bold and daring. We need more of that, but not at the expense of interior room or outward visibility.

    FCA? I think it’s time for them to go away, just give Jeep to Ford or GM.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      I think GM makes more sense. Ford has been abysmal at operating secondary brands for the last several decades. GM has been hit or miss, but they’ve done great things with GMC and they have Cadillac finally heading in the right direction, even if it has a long road to go down.

      Ford has basically zero success at managing non-Ford brands.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’m not a fan of all the hard angular creases in modern Toyotas/Lexus. However, the C-HR looks far better then the Nissan Juke.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Doctor

      Or at least the front end does. I’m not so sure about the rear though, the Juke’s isn’t really that bad in comparison.

    • 0 avatar

      @energetic9

      damning with faint praise

      • 0 avatar
        energetik9

        Yeah. Truthfully, not sure what to make of it. Yes, not a fan of the new design elements in Toyota/Lexus. This model could have potential, perhaps too soon to say. From what I see, it looks to have a more aggressive stance than the Juke. In the end, I always find these tiny CUVs to have too many compromises to include a lack of any usable space. in the end, I’ll wait for the reviews. It’s certainly too small to be of any use to me.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Solution to FCAs problem, stop putting so damn many modules in the cars, that’s a design issue not a supplier issue.

    I don’t want that many modules in my cars, put more solid links between parts, use cables or use metal bars, but there are MANY better ways of making components work together than modules.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      It sounds like Ralph Gilles was complaining about suppliers (which all automakers use) rather than about FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      In this case module does not mean what you think it does. They are not talking about electronics specifically but any assembly that comes into the plant ready to install that was produced by an outside supplier. So it could be anything from a seat to a electronic control module.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        no, he’s talking about the correct thing. the link to the article is broken so I went to Automotive News and found it. just to quote from it:

        Pointing to the Pacifica, Gilles said: “Modules, modules and more modules. There’s so many modules there. If we were to strip off this car, we’d probably have a basketful of modules — little black boxes that do something. It’s getting out of control. They’re very expensive. They’re tough to package. They’re very complex.

        http://www.autonews.com/article/20160228/OEM/302299964/cars-freakishly-expensive-gilles-warns

      • 0 avatar
        Giltibo

        I work at one of those FCA suppliers…

        The Pacifica looks like its gonna be another POS like the Cherokee…
        It’s already a nightmare and mass pro has started only yesterday without the kinks having been all fixed.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I never understood the “The rent is too damn high” guy. The people he was trying to appeal to don’t pay rent.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    We’ll see if Honda’s words turn into action. I feel that safety regulations will prevent us from ever seeing something that approaches the ergonomic and bones-deep “rightness” that late 80s-early 90s Hondas had engineering into them at every level. Another site recently had a scanned article from 1987 with a visit by American journalists to Japan to sample the then-new 4th gen (EF) Honda Civics that were being readied for US release later in the year. It was awesome to read, but also made me sad thinking about how that era of automobile has passed. I also noted the technical detail that used to be included in mainstream auto mags back in the day. They did a whole expose on Honda’s SOHC 16 valve heads and explained why they did that instead of a more traditional DOHC (packaging, cost), and also discussed the suspension design of the new Civics.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Honda/Acura used to be so proud of DOHC that they put a decal with those letters on the first gen Integra. Then the tech migrated to the Honda Civic. And when subsequent Civics went back to SOHC, I, like a movie character on his knees and looking skyward, asked “WHYYYYYY???!!!”.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …Having too many cooks is spoiling the product soup, warns Honda Motor Company CEO Takahiro Hachigo in Reuters.

    To speed up the development of new vehicles, Hachigo is separating Honda’s design team from its marketing team and telling both to stay in their respective corners.

    The new direction aims to have employees focus solely on what they’re good at, which Hachigo hopes will result in more appealing products and fewer “watered-down” designs…

    This is GREAT news. This explains a lot of what has been coming out of Honda as of late and some of the marketing pillars they’ve been focusing on, “hey our minivan has a built in vacuum cleaner!”

    “Our truck bed has built in speakers!” I mean, the strongly implies it isn’t a real truck, which misses the point of trucks, but – bed speakers!”

    Neither of these points are to say the new Ridgeline is “bad” or the Odyssey is “bad” (Odyssey would be my number 2 choice behind the Toyota Sienna if I was buying a minivan today). But what they are focusing on from a product stand point has become very diluted.

    When marketing starts running the asylum, you end up with the Crosstour, errr, Aztek, well you know…

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “hey our minivan has a built in vacuum cleaner!”

      Better than “hey our minivan sucks!” :)

      “Our truck bed has built in speakers!”

      Here, the marketers probably envisioned a couple on a date enjoying music under a starry night from the bed of the pickup, unaware that she would say “I know that smell.”

      “Um… yeah, had to haul some fertilizer today,” he answers.

      Yes Honda, please keep marketers away from designers.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      APaGttH – committees have a way of sucking the life out of anything.

      Too many invertebrate bobble-heads.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …Our kingdom for a cheaper module!

    That’s the desperation-tinged cry of Ralph Gilles, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles global design chief, in a revealing talk published by Automotive News.

    Gilles, speaking at a recent Canada-U.S. Original Equipment Suppliers Association dinner, bemoaned the high cost of producing tech-laden vehicles and appealed to suppliers to help bring that expense down.

    Sourcing too many modules has made production costs for vehicles like the upcoming 2017 Chrysler Pacifica “freakishly expensive,” he said, adding that consolidation of modules could be the answer. Unspoken in his remarks is an implicit threat that should a domestic solution not be found, cheaper, overseas parts could be the answer.

    Or, to put it a happier way, if we all come together, there’ll be happiness across the land…

    If they put more controls in a single module, part of the way to make this interesting from a production and service stand point is to take some lessons from the military. Make them more accessible, and make them basically plug-and-play.

    I know dealers won’t like it, but this will certainly help with production costs and with owner satisfaction. Nothing upsets an owner more than seeing a $93 part that takes $1000 worth of labor to replace.

    It would seem with the size of electronics today it wouldn’t be that hard to have behind an interior panel, raised up off the floor board so if there is any light water damage the vehicle isn’t totaled, a bank of “modules” that could plug and played out.

    Way easier for wiring, routing, service, maintenance, accident repair, and I bet after market would love it. 98% of owners won’t be willing to rip some inside trim piece out. Of the 75% of the 2% that don’t know what they are doing, it will be painfully obvious to a service department it was tampered with, and the other 25% of the 2% can self-service for pennies.

    Also provides a market to add improved functionality with new modules, or new programming that someone could buy aftermarket.

    Cars are lasting longer, upgrades in programming or modules themselves could become a new profit center.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Speaking of the Google car, maybe they can put off the interior design work a little longer. Seems as though one decided to drive itself into the side of a bus.

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/29/11134344/google-self-driving-car-crash-report

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    I want “fewer” modules, not “less”.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    “The home of the British Grand Prix might be getting a new owner that couldn’t be more British.”

    Oh, you mean Jaguar Land Rover Group, the company owned by Tata of India?


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