Cut­ting costs with one Ac­cord

Honda twins pique doubts for the fu­ture, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE global au­to­mo­tive melt­down could spell the end of Honda’s two Ac­cord pol­icy. Asian Honda pres­i­dent and CEO Fu­mi­hiki Ike ad­mits the com­pany is looking at ways to cut costs, sug­gest­ing some mod­els avail­able to­day might not be around in a few years.

The cur­rent two-model Ac­cord range may end up be­com­ing one and ‘‘clean’’ turbo-diesel en­gines are now on hold for Aus­tralia.

But Ike re­fuses to be drawn on which model — the Euro or the larger Ac­cord — could face the axe.

Un­til now the Ac­cord twins have worked well for Honda Aus­tralia, se­cur­ing a slice of the mid-size and large-car sales seg­ments.

Last year the com­pany sold 7837 Ac­cords and 6755 Eu­ros.

Honda Ja­pan has al­ready sig­nalled the end of the S2000 sports car and a high-per­for­mance NSX re­place­ment is now un­der a cloud.

Ike says the com­pany needs an­other sports car like the NSX but at this time it’s a low pri­or­ity.

How­ever, Honda is con­tin­u­ing work on the hy­brid CR-Z coupe, he says. The CR-Z is ex­pected to be launched next year.

‘‘We will still fo­cus on tech­nol­ogy,’’ Ike says. ‘‘I think we have to keep our tech­no­log­i­cal edge.’’

That means con­tin­u­ing work on the com­pany’s hy­brid, fuel-cell and VTEC en­gine tech­nol­ogy. How­ever Ike warns there will be some short­term pain, forc­ing some tech­no­log­i­cal spending to be shelved.

Honda Aus­tralia re­mains com­mit­ted to bring­ing in the Civic hatch this year and the new hy­brid In­sight.

Ike says the com­pany is strug­gling to get a good price point for the In­sight — due here late this year — be­cause of cur­rent ex­change rates.

Honda Aus­tralia se­nior di­rec­tor Lind­say Smal­ley is con­fi­dent the com­pany can hold on to a 5.5 per cent mar­ket share this year, an over­all sales tally of slightly more than 48,000 this year and down from its 2007 sales peak of 60,000.

Smal­ley says there are no plans to cut staff.

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