| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Nov 29 Honda Motor Co introduced
its redesigned Civic sedan only a year-and-a-half after a major
model change of the best-selling compact car in the United
Even Honda admits that the 2012 Civic, introduced in the
spring of 2011, missed the mark. For a company that prides
itself on rock-solid reliability, it was a shock last summer
when influential Consumer Reports ranked the Civic dead last in
a field of 12 compact sedans it tested.
Sales of the new Civic, a 2013 model, will start this week
and the refreshed car was shown off on Thursday at the LA Auto
Honda produced a Civic that is upgraded inside and out,
featuring a sleeker look, better quality interiors and improved
steering feel and a rear view camera that comes standard, said
John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American
Mendel said that Honda has no plans to compensate owners of
the 2012 Civic, and that he has only heard from a few customers
upset that they bought a car that was upgraded so soon.
He said he would equate it to the owner of a
year-and-a-half-old Apple IPod when Apple comes out with a new
"You still got a great vehicle, with a lot of capability.
The new one is just improved," said Mendel, which is what he
tells customers, who, he said, are satisfied with their cars.
"I don't want to be too flip about that but at the same time
it's not as if we duped them into buying something that was not
good and then all of a sudden said we fixed it," said Mendel.
"You got the broken one and now we got the real one. It's not
Mendel said that there is a 45-day supply of 2012 Civics
remaining, which should take a few months to sell off. Honda is
offering three-year leases on those cars for $149 a month and
HONDA GOT ITS MOJO BACK
Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer
Reports, says that the magazine will test the new Civics soon.
He could not predict if the Civic will return to its
"recommended buy" list, but he said that Honda seems to be
making the right moves after some questionable quality in some
of its models in the past several years.
"They have gotten their mojo back," Fisher said on the
sidelines of the LA Auto Show. "They've had problems. They had a
whole series where every new redesign was worse" than the car it
Fisher said the new Accord, which went on sale a few months
ago, "is a really impressive vehicle" and much-improved over its
"Hopefully, the improvements they've made in the Civic will
help bring it up over the line and we can recommend it again,"
The Civic LX sedan with automatic transmission is priced at
$19,755 including destination charges, and a manual transmission
version is $800 less. All versions of the 2013 Civic that go on
sale this week are $160 higher than the 2012 models.
Mendel, as he has said several times this year, said on
Thursday that Honda miscalculated the market after the Lehman
Bros. collapse in 2008 and the beginning of the recent
recession, which was when the 2012 Civic was being developed.
"We had anticipated," said Mendel, "that consumers would
have a little bit different and more conservative view about
driving. We underestimated the expectations. We zigged a little
bit to provide them with the content that we thought they would
Mendel said that by the time the 2012 Civic was introduced,
Honda executives were already saying they undershot the target
and needed to upgrade the car.
The biggest changes, Mendel said, including a softer touch
of the dashboard, and sheet mental changes to the exterior, were
planned to be made at a later date, but were pushed ahead after
the 2012 Civic was introduced and missed the mark.
He said that the fact that the Civic has maintained its
position as the best-selling compact car in the U.S. market
shows that Honda has not misstepped too badly.
Sales of the Civic through October were up 39 percent at
254,716, according to Autodata Corp.
PACE OF REFRESHED MODELS
Mendel said that buyers should not expect such quick
turnarounds in upgrades to Honda models in the future.
What this one shows is positive for Honda, he said. It shows
that the company can pivot quickly when the market demands
changes. However, he said, the amortization and tooling costs
for a refreshed model requires Honda and other automakers to
wait two-and-a-half years or so between changes.
(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by M.D. Golan)