Anticipating a sharp drop in demand for its products, Honda said Wednesday that it will shut down all vehicle assembly and powertrain production in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico starting March 23rd.
The length of the continent-wide shutdown, pegged at 6 days, seems somewhat optimistic given what we’ve seen in other regions hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, though one supposes the automaker has to start somewhere.
I’m not, generally speaking, a crossover fan. That said, I’m not a full-on hater, either — I understand that sometimes people need the utility offered by crossovers. And some of the compact five-seat crossovers, the small ones that aren’t rolling barges, seem to be decent tools for automotive multitasking, at least to my eye.
Take Toyota’s RAV4. Always a hit with the public, if not with enthusiasts, and the newest version is quite good.
And just like the Accord/Camry battles that have been fought since before I could legally drive, the CR-V and RAV4 are fighters in opposite corners, duking it out for buyer’s bucks. Including those buyers who want to go green.
There are many reasons one buys a hybrid — the fuel-economy gains, the green cred, or the “green” posturing/posing — but no matter what the why is, there are buyers out there who want that badge.
In times of crisis, companies have been known to turn on a dime to produce whatever’s most needed at a given moment. Detroit automakers churned out all manner of jeeps, armoured cars, and tank killers during World War 2, with American office supplier Remington Rand cranking out .45-calibre Colt 1911 pistols. The Singer sewing machine company made its own batch of 1911s during WWI.
The threat facing the globe right now is not militaristic in nature, but it does pose a clear danger to everyone. It also knows no borders. As the world (in many cases, belatedly) moves to counter the threat of COVID-19, UK automakers might be pressed into service making a different kind of product.
Clearly aware of what the minivan segment is all about, Honda has refreshed the Odyssey for 2021 with an obvious focus on the fundamentals. Practicality is the name of the game here, and with the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Sienna both receiving updates this annum, Honda didn’t want to be caught napping. But that doesn’t mean the brand has snapped wide awake, either.
Odyssey sales were down last year, with Honda unable to break 100,000 deliveries inside the United States for the first time this millennia. While the 2021 refresh could remedy that, the minivan segment doesn’t enjoy favorable positioning at the present time. Its competitors offer more variety, and Odyssey still doesn’t come with all-wheel drive — presumably because Honda thinks it’s unnecessary.
While that’s technically true (snow tires are more useful when the going gets slushy), there’s a subset of car customers who feel it’s a must-have option that Honda will continue to miss. They’ll be heading into Chrysler showrooms to drool over the handsome Pacifica’s laundry list of options or visiting Toyota to weigh the Sienna’s many practical merits against its curious exterior styling and less-than-lovely interior. Honda’s changes are mostly about leaning into Odyssey’s strengths and nullifying its shortcomings, the latter of which weren’t terribly prevalent to begin with.
Honda has discontinued sales of its Clarity EV in North America for 2020. Given that the manufacturer was one of the few OEMs to publicly express doubts about rampant electrification, this shouldn’t come as a complete surprise — with any residual shock being nullified by the model’s lackluster demand.
Between the Clarity Electric, (hydrogen) Fuel Cell, and Plug-In Hybrid models, Honda only saw 11,654 U.S. deliveries last year. That’s a marked decline against the 20,000 units sold in 2018 and a hint as to why the EV has been quietly put out to pasture. Most of those sales undoubtedly went to the nationally available Clarity Hybrid. Fueling restrictions have locked the hydrogen variant to California, with the Electric similarly being isolated to the Golden State and Oregon (the Beaver State).
Those of us in a certain age bracket, which is to say rapidly approaching our fortieth year or more, recall the Honda Civic as a primarily hatchback form of transportation. Sure, a few weirdos went and got the sedan or coupe but, by and large, the Civic was a hatchback. At least in our town.
Then, it suddenly disappeared from dealer lots in North America. The seventh-gen car was available in coupe or sedan form on this side of the pond, save for the slightly oddball Si and its bent-nail gearstick. Mercifully, it reappeared in volume for the current model.
We’ve studied the Civic sedan and coupe in this series but not the hatchback. Let’s right that wrong today.
With the refresh bestowed upon the wild Honda Civic Type R for 2020 comes a unique variant few Americans will get their hands on. However, unlike European buyers, those 600 lucky customers will at least get a radio and air conditioning.
The Type R Limited Edition takes what’s already a potent, attention-grabbing machine and dials up the track-readiness — but not the power.
The United States Department of Justice has ended its investigation into Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW over a presumed antitrust violation stemming from a deal they made with California to adhere to regional emission rules. Their agreement technically circumvents the current administration’s plan to freeze national emissions and fuel economy standards — established while President Obama was still in office — at 2021 levels through 2026. Under the California deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and gas mileage requirements that are more stringent than the federal standards suggested in the rollback proposal.
But the probe also looked like retaliation from the Trump administration against automakers publicly siding with the state causing the most trouble in the gas war. Under the deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and economy requirements that are tougher than proposed federal standards. Despite the corporate promise being as empty as an Oscar speech, it was still an affront to the current administration’s efforts to tamp down lofty efficiency targets put in place just days before it came into power.
While the Justice Department hasn’t explicitly said why it closed the investigation, it’s presumed that it simply didn’t find anything that it felt violated antitrust laws. California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday that he wasn’t surprised by the decision, stating that the “trumped-up charges were always a sham, a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards.”
Wandering the 2020 Chicago Auto Show floor on the second media day, I entertained myself by playing with trucks.
More specifically, I tinkered with the trick tailgates found on GMC and Ram models, plus the in-bed cooler offered by Honda’s Ridgeline. Also springing to mind is the available roll-up tonneau cover offered by Jeep’s Gladiator, as well as that old stalwart, the RamBox.
While the braintrust here at TTAC tend to gravitate towards the Honda Civic’s mid-range Si model and its happy-medium combo of performance and restrained styling, some folks want it all. And nothing represents front-wheel drive excess quite like the Civic Type R.
For 2020, the wildest member of the Civic clan undergoes a makeover, staying true to itself while improving the package in a manner that won’t anger any diehards. Honda didn’t go near that wing.
Not that long ago, we posited that the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic would buck the declining passenger car trend and eke out a sales win in 2019. Several things were working in the models’ favor — name recognition, diversity of choice, and the elimination of domestic rivals.
In this market, in this era, breaking even counts as a win. And that’s just what the Corolla and Civic did last year.
Many sedans are due to fade away at the end of this year, replaced via a cadre of crossovers (as preferred by Middle America). To that end, we began a trio of sedan-focused QOTDs last week. First up were the compact and subcompact sedans, where your author awarded the Mazda 3 a class win.
This week, we’re talking midsizers. The choices are fewer in number than you might think.
There was a time where you could ask just about anybody on the street which car brand they felt was the most reliable and they’d pause for a moment before answering — unsure as to whether they should suggest Toyota or Honda.
While the realities of what constitute a “reliable car” are a little more complicated than simple branding, both automakers deservedly made a name for themselves by undercutting and outlasting rival products coming from Detroit.
Times have changed. These days, you’ll usually see Toyota (and Lexus) sitting at the top of most reliability/quality surveys while Honda has settled uncomfortably to the middle of the pack. Perhaps more telling is the deluge of recalls that swept away some of the automaker’s credibility over the last five years. Honda is wisely blaming itself, allowing it to make the changes it believes are necessary to remedy the problem and regain some of its consistency.
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- ToolGuy 404 error on the product link. Which probably isn't terrific marketing on TTAC's part. https://thinkwarestore.com/product/f200-pro-ca
- ToolGuy Second picture: Do you like pegboard storage? (I don't.)
- ToolGuy "WHAT???"(old 'I was in the artillery' joke)
- ToolGuy Oh and this.
- ToolGuy "The boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon, and Harrow have likewise announced plans to take legal action to force a possible judicial review..."But: "In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire... Hurricanes hardly happen."