Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Updates About Honda

When Honda’s CEO Takeo Fukui delivered his 2008 year-end speech in mid-December last year, everyone went nuts over the announcement that the Japanese company was going to cancel its new NSX project and will be pulling out of Formula One. After all, didn’t Soichiro Honda say if Honda does not race, there is no Honda?

But what some people missed is the official acknowledgment by the Japan HQ that Honda will be entering the entry-level small car segment for the first time, out of Japan of course. This juicy piece of information was previously only communicated by Honda’s presence in India, Honda Siel Cars India. Honda has plenty of small cars in Japan (like the Honda Life), thanks to the city lifestyle and the Japanese government’s K-car tax bracket.

Details on the new car are sparse, but an introduction is expected within two to three years. The new small Honda will be an A-segment hatchback like the Suzuki Alto, the Hyundai i10 and the Kia Picanto. The car will be built with minimal reliance on expensive materials to minimize the impact of fluctuating and rising raw material prices. With so many people flocking to commodity-investment in the futures market, things are going to be tough in this department. Honda can easily adapt the recently launched Honda Life’s chassis for the new small car. The K-car’s size and wheelbase is roughly similiar to other A-segment hatches.

The same speech also confirmed what Honda Siel Cars India had revealed earlier, the development of a small displacement turbodiesel engine that will enable a diesel-powered Honda City, perhaps a 1.4 or 1.5 liter oil-burning motor producing power in various stages of tune ranging from about 60hp to 100hp?

Other juicy details in the speech include the possibility of Honda’s IMA hybrid system being added to medium and large models, that would mean the large vehicles in the Acura line-up and perhaps even the Honda Accord! Speaking of hybrids, the Honda CR-Z sports-hybrid will go on sale by end-2010, which is designed around the theme “the joy of driving”, which somehow these days also include the joy of watching the fuel gauge barely moving as you rack up the miles.

For those sticking to bikes, an all-new Honda Wave 100 for the ASEAN market with fuel injection will be introduced first in Thailand this month and subsequently other ASEAN markets. We should get it swiftly as Honda Japan has an official presence in the bike business here now. Another interesting piece of news is a new battery-powered electric motorcycle which will be launched in 2 years from now, somewhere in end-2010/2011. We already sort of knew this was coming, thanks to a teaser that was unveiled during the Honda Cub’s 50th anniversary.

And that’s about it, folks!

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