Honda America will be spearheading several of Honda’s global vehicle development projects in an effort to help the carmaker fend off competitive challenges in North America and avoid the effects of the strong yen. Honda’s US unit will be engineering and developing the new-generation Acura NSX sports car, the redesign of the current Civic at the end of 2012, the next-generation Accord wagon and Accord coupe and "a few Acura models," according to Erik Berkman, the new president of Honda R&D Americas.
Berkman said he was appointed as president of Honda R&D Americas in April in part because he likes to play “offense.”
Honda has been fostering North American engineering for the past two decades, and with the increasing pressure on the carmaker – including the stronger yen -- it has no choice but to have its US unit handle new responsibilities. Honda is also under pressure from smaller US market players like Nissan and Hyundai. In fact, Nissan’s Altima sedan outsold Honda’s Accord in 2011.
Berkman readily accepted the newly imposed responsibilities. Berkman said that Honda’s R&D center in Raymond, Ohio, which employs around 2,000 people, may expand in the next few years to accommodate the increased responsibility.
He likewise hinted that Honda America would engineer the next-generation Civic. Berkman said that although Honda R&D Americas has yet to achieve a scope of activities on par with R&D operations in Japan, its US facilities and the skill level of its engineers have achieved full citizenship in r&d.