Honda is planning to overhaul its bland image
Honda Motor Company knows it can’t remain where they are and remain competitive in the new global automotive market. Even though the Japanese company is the only major automaker to have never had an annual loss, they know they have lost their former reputation of having cars that are innovative, sporty and fun to drive. If they don’t change quickly, they will slowly begin to die.
Honda plans to win back its reputation for innovative cars in the face of improving Korean, U.S. and German competition as well as recent critical reviews. In order to accomplish the goal of bringing back the mojo that Honda had in the 80’s, they have appointed 30 year Honda veteran Erik Berkman, to be chief of Honda’s North American R&D team.
Competition is forcing Honda to change
Honda is feeling the pressure from the South Koreans who have been gaining ground steadily over the past few years. Even though Honda's U.S. sales in 2007 more than doubled the combined U.S. deliveries of Hyundai Motor Co. and sister company Kia Motors Corp., the Koreans came within 1 percent of Honda last year. And the Accord which was the best-selling car in the U.S. in 2001, has been overtaken by Toyota’s Camry every year since then.
According to Automotive News, Tetsuo Iwamura, Executive Vice President of Honda North American says "What we expect him (Berkman) to do is, through this good knowledge and experience, fulfill his dream of making North America strong." Honda executives are counting on the new R&D chief to do big things.