By on February 17, 2015

2014 Honda Civic Coupe (7 of 29)

Deciding quality should be its focus over quantity, Honda announced it would scrap its target of 6 million units sold annually by 2017.

Bloomberg reports the automaker also won’t set a target for global annual sales in its next midterm plan, again, to focus its attention to improving overall quality of its products. Honda CEO Takanobu Ito, inspired by the late Soichiro Honda, says he will bring his company “back to basics,” with business expansion no longer in the cards.

The announcement follows a year of quality issues affecting the automaker, from the recalls involving the Fit and Vezel, to the Takata airbag recall crisis that led to Honda’s decision to use units from Autoliv and Daicel. The latter issue also brought scrutiny to the company from the United States government, resulting in a record fine of $70 million for how it handled reporting potential issues to regulators for over a decade.

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39 Comments on “Honda Abandons 2017 Sales Target To Improve Product Quality...”

  • avatar

    “Deciding quality should be its focus over quantity, Honda announced it would scrap its target of 6 million units sold annually by 2017.”

    I applaud Honda for this, but I’ve got to ask, are the two mutually exclusive?

    • 0 avatar

      IF they have discovered a defect of some type that needs to be addressed and cant be done in then next 5 months alone then yes. Once the part or whatever it is gets corrected then they are joined at the hip.

    • 0 avatar

      No. It’s tougher, but can be done. I also have my doubts as to the sincerity of the claim. They know such a statement gains much armchair quarterbacking applause. The reality is they’ve hit a wall in Europe and can’t grow much in growing markets for lack of pricing. Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota seem to have much more stomach for that.

      • 0 avatar

        I too wondered if there was some cushion built into their numbers, or intent for this.

        Option 1: Aim high and decrease goal if there are a couple issues, in the name of quality.

        Option 2: Aim high and delete goal if there are big problems, in the name of quality!

    • 0 avatar

      Honda is most likely in the top 5% (i.e. 95%+ percentile) of automakers in terms of quality problems/defects/issues.

      And they’re going to do a top-to-bottom review of their quality “issues,” to the degree that unit volume production is going to be a secondary issue.

      Imagine if Honda had General Motor’s quality problem/defects/issues rate.

      Honda would probably cease production altogether & burn their facilities to the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      Somewhere, Soichiro Honda is smiling.

      Watching Toyota’s quality issues (whether or not real) must have been a powerful motivator.

      • 0 avatar

        “Somewhere, Soichiro Honda is smiling.”

        Yeah, I’m sure of it.

        But in reality, I’m not sure if these “product quality” issues affect the entire line of Honda-mobiles.

        My grandson bought a 2014 Accord V6 this past August and he hasn’t had to go back to the dealership for any “quality” issues, even after twice giving it a good “cross-country” trouncing.

        Yup, six months since bought, ~12K on the odo, plus his wife’s daily commute up and down I-5 in SoCal.

        And still no complaints, no problems, no issues.

        Maybe all this precaution on Honda’s part is more the exception rather than the rule. Or maybe, it is a sales-ploy to impress the public with Honda’s concern and dedication for producing quality vehicles.

        • 0 avatar

          Same story with our 2012 Accord EXL 2.4 at just over 36k miles. Killed the warranty yesterday cruising at 85mph in either Utah or Idaho.

        • 0 avatar

          Quality begins at 150k. Even my derided as a total piece of crap Frontier has given me 13,000 trouble free miles. Heck my 2003 Saturn Ion did 20k without a single issue.

          Perhaps they are trying simply to limit supply a little (or create that perception) to push transaction prices up a bit.

  • avatar

    I think the problem has been the new Mexican plant. My statement is not meant to criticize Mexican workers. With such a big plant, I’ve heard that even the Mexican infrastructure has been strained. I’m sure things are getting sorted, but it’s gonna take time. The Fit roll-out has been a disaster and Honda doesn’t want this situation to spread to the HR-V. Pretty easy to lose the quality reputation if one’s not careful.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If they had tried this ten years ago I might still be their customer. Before they do quality, they have to do humility.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t own any Honda products myself, but the members of my family who have bought new Honda products have found them to be outstanding vehicles, and without flaws.

      Cons!dering the popularity of Honda vehicles in America today, this leads me to believe that bad experiences with Honda products are rare and limited. I know they happen, just like all the bad experiences I, and many others like me, have experienced with GM and Ford products over the decades past.

      I found the best thing to do is to move on and buy another brand.

      • 0 avatar

        Anyone that claims a particular brand is “without flaws” is a liar (either to themselves or to us).

        • 0 avatar

          The reality is that with rare exception there is very little difference between worst and first. Cars are getting marked down in “quality” because people can’t get their phone to pair, not because the engine blows up in 50K. We live in a golden age.

          • 0 avatar

            Hear, hear. And therein is Honda’s problem. Selling solely based on reliability is like Volvo did with safety. When the rest of the world caught up, sayonara Volvo. I don’t know if Honda actually perceives this. Toyota however has been making some noises in getting their cars more competitive on other fronts. Let’s see.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      It’s not just about quality, it’s also about having product that interests their customers.

      In their motorcycle division (Honda builds some 15 million motorcycles per year), they have had their share of duds in the last few years – products that leave people wondering what Honda was thinking. They replaced the excellent VFR800 with the ugly VFR1200 that came too close to their long-running ST1300 sport-tourer – and then this year have gone back to the VFR800, which is what they should have done in the first place. They have had several models that are nearly impossible to sell because they hit no market segment at all (DN-01, anyone?). The NC700 series uses half of a Honda Fit/Jazz car engine; bike people expect better performance than that. They have a reputation for building bikes that are technically excellent overall, but lack character. If I’m buying a 1000cc sport bike (which I happen to be doing), I want something that is exciting to ride. (I’m in the process of buying a Kawasaki)

      I went to the Toronto auto show this past Saturday. Honda doesn’t build any cars that interest me. And I’m not anti-Honda … I have a CBR125R (Honda builds excellent small-displacement motorcycles), and I have a Honda snowblower.

  • avatar

    Maybe Honda’s trying to keep moles out of the lawn.

  • avatar

    One can only hope they learn how to paint a car also. My 2009 Acccord seemingly has worse paint than my previous Civic, which was hardly a bastion of quality coating. Looking at it funny would scratch the paint.

    • 0 avatar

      The paint on my wife’s 2005 Accord is coming off in patches. This isn’t even a result of rock chips or scratching, it started flaking off around the front and rear windshields and has continued along the roof near the rain channels. Honda USA declined to do anything so I doubt her next car will be a Honda, repainting the car would be ridiculously expensive since it needs to be sanded down completely.

  • avatar

    Honda also announced it was pruning its model lineup by 20%, which isn’t mentioned here.

    Toyota has already announced no new factories prior to the end of 2016, and that was over 6 months ago. The world market for cars/vehicles is not heading upwards at the moment – North America is the anomaly, and since most posters here are Americans, navel-gazing pronouncements don’t necessarily hold much water on the global scale.

    Honda’s CEO Ito is facing a lot of opposition to his plans, much of it from the old boys brigade of past executives, which apparently as a group holds a fair amount of sway at Honda.

    Personally, I think he’s on the right track. Honda’s North American range is pretty uneven in quality. For hoots, after I drove various versions of the TLX last September and found them not very good, I’ve been following and the problems are comically outrageous. People are also having hassles with the new MDX. Besides transmission hiccups, bad struts and rattles, the electronics seem to be problematic, surprising for a Japanese maker

    In contrast, the VW/Audi forums are reasonably quiet on the new GTI and A3/S3. Subaru is supposed to have a bad launch according to True Delta, but the main problem is sticking fuel filler doors! (Plus the usual done blowed up my motor brigade ’cause I tuned it, bro – how do I get warranty? And of course rattles)

    It might not be a bad time for Honda to take stock of where it is. As mentioned above, and by myself many times, Honda is so out of tune with Europe they might as well give up. Their decentralized factory system seems highly disorganized, because no two are alike – they used to think that individualized units allowed innovation and followed Honda’s tradition of muddling through to victory by accepting failure only to come up with a better way afterwards, but cars are now so regulated you have to wonder if they need a bit more corporate governance.

    We shall see. But I don’t think they have come to any conclusions yet. They’re at the musing stage.

    • 0 avatar

      Japanese brands have always struggled in Europe, not just Honda. Haven’t heard of any issues with the 9-speed auto but I am curious since we’ll likely replace our 2002 Escape with a new Pilot.

      I could talk for days about my 2007 Outback and the many major issues with it, and the only mod were weather tech mats! Luckily everything was covered under warranty including headgaskets, blown rearend, flywheel (manual), numerous wheel bearings, and a couple melted cv boots.

      My wife wouldn’t touch it and so we got an Accord, which as I said had not been in a single time with the same number of miles.

  • avatar

    Curious to see how others respond.

  • avatar

    That’s probably a good move, post-Takata.

    Honda’s value proposition has been based on quality ever since I’ve known about cars, and so giving that up for a short term sales goal is literally trading their future for a short term goal.

    I have to ask when Volkswagen will follow suit? Please, please?

  • avatar

    There are recalls on the Vezel? I didn’t think it was even on sale yet.

    EDIT: Vezel = on sale JDM.
    HR-V = US version later.

    I forgotted.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    What? Honda admits to mistakes after 4-5 decades of arrogance and making some not so bright moves; i.e letting the whole Acura brand slide, Accord redesigns, and the thing called Ridgeline? Using the special flap on my fire suit to munch popcorn.

  • avatar

    The big boys at Honda are slowly learning that there are fewer buyers willing to pay a premium price for a Honda.

  • avatar

    Could Honda please also add a proper highway gear to the manual transmission in the Fit?

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