According to Honda Motor’s research and development boss, the Japanese automaker – the third largest in the country – is mulling a reduction in the number of car variations by a fifth as a quality growth measure.
The carmaker has been recently hit by numerous product recalls and quality issues, a situation that chief executive Takanobu Ito also associated with the goal of achieving annual sales of 6 million vehicles by 2017 – now saying the company is ready to back away from. After problems arose with the new generation of the Fit (Jazz) hybrid subcompact, a model that was recalled in under a year for five recalls, Honda actually decided not to introduce any new models last year – even postponing the crucial Accord to have more time to address any potential flaws. Honda’s top engineer, Yoshiharu Yamamoto, also cited as a probable cause the sheer amount of work done in the R&D labs. “My sense is that we need to slash the number of cars we develop by about 20 percent,” he commented, targeting the numerous versions stemming from a single nameplate that are needed to fulfill specific market around the world.
Yamamoto added that because it puts intense pressure on engineers and became inefficient, the reduction efforts had already been started when the quality issues arose, though the executive refrained from giving a specific timetable on when they started or when they would be finished. Larger competitor Toyota also made the same move after its disastrous recalls surrounding the unintended acceleration issues, allowing more time for development and implementing additional quality checks.