Honda CEO takes responsibility for Civic’s poor performance in the U.S. image

Honda Motor CEO Takanobu Ito today said he takes personal responsibility for the poor reception that the redesigned Civic has had in the U.S. market and for its modest sales performance.

“The ultimate responsibility rests with me. We take inputs from the various markets with sincerity… and try to work out the best actions for what we have observed. Those decisions rest with me,” Ito was quoted as saying by Automotive News at the Tokyo motor show.

For the first time in more than 10 years, the 2012 Civic was not included in the list of „recommended” vehicles by the influential Consumer Reports magazine, mostly due to the poor quality of its cheap interior plastics. Moreover, a review from the Wall Street Journal called the Civic redesign “a betrayal.”

Civic sales through October fell 15 percent to 183,557 vehicles in the United States, a market that rose 10 percent during the same period. The Japan earthquake and floods in Thailand affected Honda’s plants, which reduced production during the spring and fall. As a result, Civic sales have been overtaken by both Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Fusion, with the Hyundai Elantra close behind.

In a recent interview, John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president, said that Honda was looking at shortening the life cycle of the Civic, bringing forward its mid-cycle change to 2013 calendar year, a year ahead of the original plan.