Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
June 28, 2012
If you were only to read the headlines about Honda, you might be wondering why a good amount of people are complaining. So far in 2012, Honda sales are up, has excellent relations with their suppliers, won this year’s Indy 500, and many other good stories that many a company wish they had.
However, those in the know see that Honda lost the magic that it once had during the eighties and nineties with its core group of fans. Honda has also began to realize this very fact and is taking some drastic steps to fix it.
For the first time in Honda’s history, they have promoted an American, Erik Berkman, to the position of North American Research and Development chief.
"What we expect him to do is, through this good knowledge and experience, fulfill his dream of making North America strong," said Tetsuo Iwamura, Executive Vice President of Honda North America.
Making Honda strong in North America will not be an easy feat. Berkman has to balance building cars that have the magic of old Honda vehicles while keeping keeping the brand profitable. Honda is the only automaker not to post an annual loss, despite a recession and the bad reviews on their cars.
However, Berkman has the reputation to possibly pull this off. A 30 year veteran of Honda, he has worked on the 1999 Honda Odyssey and 2001 Acura CL, his team designed the multiple-Indy 500-winning engine, and Berkman was the head of the 2004 Acura TL: a car that he had to fight for, and one that turn out for the best. In 2004, the TL was the best selling in its class.
Berkman’s first order of business is the Civic. The new Civic has been panned by the press and caused Honda to move up the refresh to this year. Berkman says the refreshed Civic will bring a few “tweaks” including upgraded interior materials and revised driving dynamics.
Berkman’s ultimate goal for Honda is this: "We want everybody to fall over and go: There it is again. There's that Honda we used to praise."
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.