Honda hopes to regain car industry foothold with its creative directors

Article by Anita Panait, on March 5, 2012

The engineer duo is tasks to say just “yes” or “no” to every car designs that passes through. If the design is as mediocre as the 2012 Honda Civic, Minami and Asahi could say no without repercussions from the higher ups. And only if they started earlier, the cheap redesign of the Honda Civic might have not reach production. 

The 2012 Civic has been the center of severe criticisms, leaving its detractors and supporters alike, as well as competitors, to wonder how Honda slumped like this. Many say that the company tumbled into designing cars by committee in recent years while drifting away from the free-thinking ambitions of its founder.

Asahi admits the company’s biggest problem to Reuters, saying that somewhere along the way, Honda lost the ability to express itself more freely.  "We have a lot of designers here, and when we ask ourselves, 'Which Honda car would we want to buy?' Sometimes, some of us draw a blank," Asahi revealed to Autonews.

The admission seems to the complete opposite of how Honda surprised US carmakers in the 1970s by introducing inexpensive yet fuel-efficient cars like the Civic.

Whereas during that time Honda was a pioneer in introducing new technologies like the CVCC engine that boasted cleaner tailpipe emissions, the company now sluggishly trails behind other automakers in advances like the six-speed transmissions and direct fuel-injection systems. Insiders remarked that Honda has become a carmaker that settled for bigger profits rather creating innovative cars that were the company’s secret to success.

Though each version of Honda’s 2012 Civic has an aerodynamic body, they all continue to be committed to the basic characteristics expected from the brand. These include comfort, style, durability, refinement, quality, convenience, and safety. It is even a model that boasts of being fun to drive. Thus a 2012 Civic comes with two advantages.

The first is that buying a new one means making a smart decision. The second is that the joy of ownership remains to be present even in the long run, a rather unheard of characteristic in this segment. Talking about being a fun-to-drive model, the Civic is fitted with stabilizer bars in the front and the rear with a MacPherson strut suspension in the front and the rear having the multi-link suspension.

By having the Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering, or EPS, steering response is improved especially when running lower speeds. However when driving at high speeds, this gives the driver a rather excellent feel. In many standard engines that have the hydraulically boosted steering system, there is often the issue of parasitic power loss. With the Civic and the EPS, this is not a problem and thus benefits not just the output but even the fuel economy.

Safety is another highlight in the Civic especially with the various advanced safety systems equipped. One of these is the ACE body structure, which is an acronym for Advanced Compatibility Engineering. This helps with the Civic’s vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility and frontal collision energy management. Other safety features include the two-row side curtain airbags and the multiple-threshold dual-stage airbags for the driver and the passenger sitting in the front.

For these two, there are also the side airbags. Advanced safety systems include the anti-lock braking system, or ABS, which has the Brake Assist, and the Vehicle Stability Assist, known as the VSA. The addition of the Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering system in the Civic allows the driver to steer in the correct direction. It therefore helps mitigate understeer or even oversteer.

This is why internal crash test data have shown that the new Civic has been able to attain top scores in different safety tests. It had high scores in the New Car Assessment Program conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The new Civic was even designated as “TOP SAFETY PICK” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS.

Topics: honda

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