Honda Europe’s president outlines turnaround plans for unit

Article by Anita Panait, on May 14, 2012

Since five years ago, Honda has been putting up a dismal performance in Europe. Its sales and market have been continuously dropping and its European unit has been posting losses. Honda Europe, however, plans to turn everything around by the end of the 2013-2014 fiscal year -- with refreshed model lineup running on new powertrains at the vanguard of its renewed push for profitability.

In an interview with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc, Honda Europe President Manabu Nishimae detailed how the company’s European operations plan to become profitable again. Nishimae told Bolduc that Honda’s European operations plans to realize sales of more than 300,000 units, similar to the unit’s figures in 2007. To accomplish this goal, Nishimae said the company plans to update products as well as add new models.

The company also plans to sell more of the vehicles as well as auto components produced in Europe and to develop a stronger relationship with its dealers. Honda Europe’s president said that for the unit to be profitable by 2013-2014, it needs to fill up the capacity at its European plants in the UK and Turkey.

Nishimae admitted that the unit has yet to reach the optimal capacity at its plants in UK with 250,000 units and in Turkey with 50,000. Nishimae said that if the unit could achieve its full capacity, the plants could save money and Honda Europe could become less vulnerable to the yen/euro exchange rate.

During the interview with Bolduc, Nishimae said new products and powertrains will be crucial in the unit’s turnaround. This is the precise reason why the unit is renewing its entire European lineup within the next four years and it entire engine lineup in the next three years. The renewal will commence with new 1.6-liter diesel that will debut in the Honda Civic early next year. The company also plans to introduce new models like the NSX supercar.

The latest Honda Civic which initially debuted in 2006 saw an adjustment in its design approach with the improvement of an innovative platform founded on a "center tank" layout specifically made to give functional benefits like a huge cabin space that suits the needs of "C" class clients in Europe.

The Civic was outlined and produced for the European market getting positive input in aspects like style and flexibility/practicality which have aided in defining the latest Civic as having 'road presence' with its 'cutting edge looks;' and having a 'multi-purpose' use with the big boot space and numerous seat arrangements given by the 'magic seats'.

As research started, the team tasked for the development of the new Civic put into consideration these key milestones attained with the latest Honda Civic and chose to keep and just enhance the qualities of the current model of the Civic. The team wanted to produce a new design with the capacity to startle and offer the unexpected when it comes to providing space and other practical benefits while also making visibility features a notch higher to improve the total driving experience.

The latest Honda Civic already attained superb interior capacity with an equally spacious trunk among its matching models by other brands. The main priority now is to maintain this interior feature while developing total space and packaging efficiency.

This would prompt the creation of a new body design, enhanced performance in aerodynamics, and weight reduction that are key roles in raising the auto's general performance.

In-depth research was made to identify the most recent and most vital necessities for the European market. Japanese and European engineers and car designers collaborated all throughout the improvement process. Testing was done first in Japan and after that a number of times over in Europe to guarantee suitability for the world's most demanding C-segment clients.

Topics: honda, europe

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