Merry Christmas!

Merry Belated Christmas!!!! For He has come and live amongst us, and parted again for us. For the celebration of Christmas may just be for a day, the joy of Christmas is anytime.

Didn’t know it’s past Christmas really… For I didn’t get any holiday, so it’s work as usual…. Cheers people, I hope the joy of Christmas be with you all the time, not just for one day okay.

Honda CEO 2008 Year End Speech… The Interesting Stuff

Okay, 2008 is closing, and even though Honda posts record breaking profit by the middle of 2008, September came and hell along with the winter autumn breeze. Why hell? Hell… Everything plummet since September, everything that went up suddenly dropping like it was, I dunno, want to crack some joke but I think it’s futile anyway. Anyway…

When somebody wrote “The situation is worsening every day in all regions.” in their publicized company report… Then, probably it is. For 2009, Honda forecasts a drop in automobile and power equipment demands, but cited an increase in motorcycle demand. Well, it is given, when you can’t afford a car, you will buy a motorcycle (if you live in SE Asia).

“Unit sales forecasts are: motorcycles; 10.3 million units (+10.5%), automobiles; 3.65 million units (-7%), power products; 5.185 million units (-14.4%).”

The forecasts seems… Rather safe and heart lightening, however, when we look at the direction Honda is taking, I’m not so sure anymore. “

“• Toward this end, Honda will closely monitor the marketplace and then carefully determine what actions need to be taken. Once decisions are made, Honda will take quick action as the company realizes the situation is very urgent and a slight delay in making management decisions could be critical.

• Based on this understanding of the situation, bonuses for directors, corporate auditors and operating officers will be reassessed based on the business results of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2009. In addition, monthly remuneration of directors, corporate auditors and operating officers will be cut by 10% for all directors starting January 2009.” Things are tough when the higher ups bonuses are reassessed based on the business results.”

Tough, because if the situation doesn’t improve, it’s up to the higher ups effort to maintain their bonuses, and in this uncertain economy condition… Well it’s safe to assume that Honda just want to cut its spending.

Okay, so enough of the preliminary, let’s just cut into the meaty part. So…

The darker side…

  • Honda is canceling the NSX project, along with it, the V10 and V8 engine destined to go to Acura.
  • As such, Acura launch in Japan is postponed.
  • So does medium to large diesel engines.
  • Not to mention quitting F1 and AMA.

The lighter side…

  • Honda will concentrate on small sized cars as forecasted will be the top selling model of 2009. Meaning no more waiting for the Fit on the dealers!
  • Hybrids are go, CR-Z is confirmed for 2010, and Insight V2 will be available early next year.
  • Focusing on small cars, Honda will introduce small size diesels and an unnamed small car positioned below the Fit/Jazz.
  • Honda will make available full electric scooter in 2 years time.

The Acura homeward bound cancellation is quite a shocker… But considering that it will take much more effort of time and money to introduce and maintain two separate brand, Honda best bet is just to keep Acura where it already established its business. When things are better, you can be sure Honda is going to take Acura home!

The NSX cancellation means a lot for everybody, Honda own NSX that races in SuperGT needs replacement badly… It’s the only naturally aspirated small block V6 on the grid. Fighting with the likes of large bore V8s of Toyota and super turbos of Nissan makes an easy opponent of Honda… Although the NSX is giving Toyota and Nissan a run for their money. NSX might not dominates anymore, but the extra decade old NSX still slots in on the top 5 at SuperGT… And sometimes manage a podium finish, not bad at all.

The V8 that is planned to go to Acura is another question mark. I would say Honda already have a blueprint for the engine, but just doesn’t want to produce it in quantity. Remembering the fact that new technology = retooling cost, and cost is the keyword that everybody is trying to avoid next year. Oh well, in the coming tough times, it’s good enough that people still buys a car.

One of the biggest interesting aspect of the year end report speech is the introduction of an unnamed small car that will be positioned below the Fit/Jazz. Is it the Life? Or better yet, Zest Spark? If it is, why wait 3 years? 3 years is quite a long time, the global economy slowdown might as well be relieved by then… Well, or perhaps Honda is waiting for its Chinese-partnership to bear fruits? The Li-Nian concept car is mighty fine… I wouldn’t mind driving a Chinese made Honda.

The all new Honda Zest Spark… Not released yet

All in all, Honda is bracing for a tougher times ahead, and there nothing to better close this post than taking it directly from the big man himself…

“Honda is a company driven to achieve continuous growth by the dreams and passions of each Honda associate. Especially when the company faces difficult times, each associate will maintain a high level of initiative and continue challenging.”

We will always challenge the future Fukui-san, we will always.


Official Honda CEO year end speech

All New Honda City Revealed… Gravy On The Steak

With the already too much spy photos, renderings, pictures and hints from around Asia, the all new Honda City has arrived in full glory. For this generation, Honda goes all out to design the new City. No longer a lanky and dorky brother of Honda’s own Fit for which the City is based upon. The new City, albeit derived from the same platform of the Fit now sports a huge different between its hatchback brother… To a degree that the new Honda City is now is Fit’s second cousin that the Fit really want to get its groove on upon… I really am rusty… More pictures courtesy of autoblog after the click. Continue reading

Rubens Barrichello Landed Honda F1 First Podium!

What the hell… Rubens came out unsuspectingly as the third place winner on the Silverstone Formula 1 race… The old dog still has some bite on him…

Wow… Just wow, it is said that it was raining midway through the race (I didn’t watch it). The whole grid was in chaos, but a fast and precise strategy change gives the H-badge a place on the podium. Button was out of the race, but Rubens soldier on… Congratulations!

Honda really does have winning drivers. Hope that both stays for Honda next year, they just need a performing car and everybody will be happy. Ross Brawn intervention also might have a hand in the winning, that man is a pure strategist.

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:39:09.440
2 Nick Heidfeld BMW 1:08.577
3 Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:22.273
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari *at 1 lap
5 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren *at 1 lap
6 Fernando Alonso Renault *at 1 lap
7 Jarno Trulli Toyota *at 1 lap
8 Kazuki Nakajima Williams *at 1 lap
9 Nico Rosberg Williams *at 1 lap
10 Mark Webber Red Bull *at 1 lap
11 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso *at 1 lap
12 Timo Glock Toyota *at 1 lap
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari *at 2 laps
14 Robert Kubica BMW *out
15 Jenson Button Honda *out
16 Nelson Piquet Renault *out
17 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India *out
18 Adrian Sutil Force India *out
19 Sebastien Vettel Toro Rosso *out
20 David Coulthard Red Bull *out


British GP score

4th Generation Honda City Caught Testing In India

Honda CityThis post has been updated with official pictures here. With the advent of Honda Fit, came along the small compact global platform from Honda and with it, a slew of Fit inspired cars all shape and size. Now that the 2nd generation Honda Fit is rolling out across the globe, Honda venerable Fit based entry size sedan, the City is also due for a redesign. Although the details are sketchy, a forum member of Team-BHP India has pictures of a camouflaged car that is claimed to be the 4th generation Honda City in India. Witty comments and more information of when it will be released, after the click. Continue reading

Honda Jazz 2008 & Prepare For An Epic Battle… A Paper Battle

Well, the bird is out of its cage, the all new 2008 2nd generation Jazz (Fit) has arrived in Indonesia!!! Although I didn’t have any pictures, I do have information taken from the official brochure. Then, I will start a new section for my blog here called Paper Battle. The premise is simple, I will take a spec sheet of some cars which I’m going to compare, and compares it… It’s that simple, that’s why it’s called Paper Battle… Comparison based on the brochure… D’oh…

But anyway, here’s the information regarding the all new 2nd generation Honda Jazz.

There are only regular and RS model.

  • The regular version comes with the RS engine 1.5L 120ps.
  • Both version comes with 5MT or 5AT, no more CVT.
  • No future plan to bring the 1.3L + CVT version.
  • There are no moonroof for both models.
  • ABS+EBD+BA standard on both models.
  • The regular model uses 15” wheels, the RS uses 16” wheels.
  • Footrests on both model for AT version (finally!)
  • The RS model got dual SRS airbag, a bodykit, front armrest, keyless entry (akin to Accord’s), retractable door mirror, and paddle shift for the AT version.
  • Multi Information Display to calculate fuel consumption standard on both model.
  • Under seat box standard on both model.

The prices are:
Regular MT : Rp 160 million (US$16K)
Regular AT : Rp 170 million (US$17K)
RS MT : Rp 172 million (US$17,5K)
RS AT : Rp 183 million (US$18K)

Prices are expected to increase as demand increases, and demand will increase! It is priced competitively, still in range with other Japanese city cars (Toyota and Suzuki), and comes with a distinct most powerful engine in its class and the first to use 5AT on city cars.

I’m quite speechless indeed. I know for long that Honda Indonesia will probably follow Honda Thailand’s model portfolio, but I expect huge price jack. The MID, 5AT and 1.5L i-VTEC alone should warrant a premium price for the new Jazz, but it is quite affordable. The brochure even stated that the 2008 Jazz comes with tilt and telescoping steering wheel… I need to see this car in person, that’s just too awesome for its current price.

Damn! When I’m just about to buy 2008 Suzuki SX-4 (long story) and the new Jazz came out of nowhere… Oh well, three months of fasting and resolve to finally buy a non Honda obliterated to hell and back. I just need to test drive this baby and I will have another fasting time to consider the new Jazz or Suzuki SX-4… Damn….

Honda To Tata, Screw The Nano!

With the advent of Tata Nano, the cheapest modern car available in the world today, the eyes of automotive lovers are on India currently. Tata Nano didn’t just bring changes on the availability of 4-wheel contraption to the market, it also brings about a revolution. Hot on the heels of Tata, Toyota, Ford, VW, and other automotive brands are going all in with their own cheap cars. But why Honda won’t follow suit? An article of Wall Street Journal will explain why, and my own witty comments after the click. Continue reading

My Personal Preview (rant) of 2008 Honda Accord (Asian Version)

So it is official, Honda has launched Accord in Thailand as of last week. So why do I keep mum for all of these time? The self proclaimed rabid Honda fan boy? Well… It’s because I didn’t like it. To speak without restrain, Honda has done stupid things in the past, but with the launch of Accord in Thailand, they have done the most stupid thing in history as far as I know. When Takeo Fukui made his speech at Tokyo Motor Show, he said specifically that Accord will be a global model, meaning that around the world there will only be one Accord. Is this a good thing? Well, read on…

America Honda Motor a couple months ago has released Accord in the states with mixed comments from the industry. The V6 coupe has garnered many many fans while the sedan received a welcome pat on the back. It is Honda Accord after all, winner of Car and Driver magazine family sedan of the year ever since 1985, so no surprise there. But when I look at it… Damn, the car looked too bland, too “safe”, and too vanilla-ey. I guess Honda wants to play safe and gives the north American Accord the mild styling, they’ve done so in the past with the north American Civic.

The reception for this “safe” design approach was accepted by the Americans, well, their stereotype does involve simplicity over style. The Civic with the simple head light line and Honda City 2nd generation simple rear lights was a hit. Compared to the Asian/rest of the world Civic (sans Civic Euro), the north American Civic is very bland. The Asian Civic even got integrated into the Canada Acura product line as the CSX, just for styling alone.

Now here’s what I have for the global model announcement. By being a global model, a Honda car will basically have the same look anywhere it is sold in this world although there is the possibility of a minor cosmetic change. The Fit for example, it’s a global model, and from Europe to Asia to America and beyond, the Fit shape will be similar no matter what. So what does this bode for the Accord as it’s becoming a global model… One thing for sure, the shape of American Accord will be the same around the world

When the announcement was available, I immediately voiced my concerned on many internet message boards, one being Temple Of VTEC. I specifically criticize the bland styling of American Accord that will be globalizes. The world is not America (even though American government wants it that way), therefore what being sold / attractive there doesn’t necessarily means it will be the same anywhere else. Sure Accord is America Honda Motor bread and butter product, but will it be successful outside of America with the same styling?

Toyota had done their homework very well, creating a higher scale (cosmetically) Camry outside of America. Compared to Asian Camry, the American Camry looks bland, just what the Americans like. The Asian Camry however looks down right expensive and upscale. 7th generation Accord one up last generation Camry by having a full chrome around the side windows (the last gen Asian Camry has only chrome on the bottom side of the side windows. Now, Camry one up 8th generation Accord by having full chrome around the side windows and chrome lining around the fog lamps and more aggressive looking bumper… How about Asian Accord? Well, it is the same with American Accord, bland.

The rear American Accord was like a huge void of sheet metal with a big fat H logo on the center of the trunk. Thankfully, the Asian Accord received an ornamental thin red stripe extended from the rear lamps towards the center of the trunk, just like current generation Honda Odyssey.

The interior is also a shameful excuse for a Honda badge… It’s basically the 7th generation Accord interior with small changes… What the hell… I know the saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but come on, it looks almost the same with the last generation if I don’t look hard enough.

Thankfully, my father is taking CEO position in his office and doesn’t align himself directly with Honda anymore. If he does still work with Honda, he has to buy the new Accord.

Why does a rabid self proclaimed Honda fan boy said all of this things? Because I want Honda to step up and show some balls. Because Accord is the most popular car in the states doesn’t mean it will sell everywhere else around the world.

However, the engine of the new Asian Accord is quite good though. 180ps, the most powerful 2.4L engine in its class, I think the Camry has a 160-166ps 2.4L engine. A fast ugly expensive sedan will still be faster than a slow upscale pretty expensive sedan.

Here’s some links to Asian and American Honda resources.

Honda Accord Thailand website

American Honda Accord full overview

Oh, almost forgot to add, the Thailand Accord will be the base for Asian Accord including Australia. Although many applaud its driving dynamics, the drivetrain, the improved interior space, the everything… It is just ugly, bar none. Oh well, I can already imagine what they are going to do with the mid life cycle upgrades, but why won’t they do it in the first place?

Entry updated here…

Suzuki Indonesia… A Not So Champion Of Rational Thinkers

Okay, so I wrote back then about how Suzuki is the champion of rational thinkers. Now people might expect that I’m changing my mind about the matter because I don’t… However, I have this irk to settle about Suzuki Indonesia and why they kill a perfect little car called the Swift.

Suzuki products are widely known for its class leading equipments. For example here in Indonesia, the Swift WAS a product of choice for cars under US$16K with airbag+ABS+EBD+onboard computer+audio controller on steering wheel. Other cars barely reach Suzuki Swift’s equipments even as an option. The trend continues with SX-4 here in Indonesia, at just roughly US$17K, you get all of the above but with a bigger chassis and everything. But recently, Suzuki chopped off the options on Swift to the bare minimum. The car now has nothing but priced at mind boggling US$14K, down around US$3K with the negation of the options.

Now it is understandable to make the Swift as bare as it is to reduce price. But Suzuki Indonesia does not offer Swift with the extra options anymore, just the bare minimum… Now what the hell with that? From what I heard and read at many automotive forums and mailing list, Suzuki does this to push sales because the car is not selling well compared to Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris. D’oh! Off course it is, Swift is a small car compared to those two. It is not a family car per se, it is more of a coupe with extra doors at the back. Rather than just pushing for bigger sales, Suzuki can use the Swift as a stepping stones for people who wants to buy bigger Suzuki cars in the future. After all, what sellers wants from their customer is their retainership and loyalty.

Instead, Suzuki Indonesia degrade the class of Swift into that of a cheap entry level car and those who wants to buy the full optioned Suzuki cars must buy Grand Vitara or SX-4. Now where’s the logic on that? The exclusion of models with full factory options are caused by Suzuki decision to localized the production of Swift, because before the Swift was exclusively imported from Japan. Now with the localization of the Swift, Suzuki deletes the option altogether. Suzuki can still import Swift with full options, even for just a handfull because there will always be a market for high end products. Is Suzuki worried that Swift will overlap SX-4 sales? I don’t think so, because the SX-4 is already a bigger car, even though it is derived from Swift chassis.

One thing I can notice about Suzuki Indonesia decision is just because they want to save as much money as possible. By making all Swift as one standard model, they can achieve economy of scale far easier and they don’t have to incur inventory cost by keeping a separate line of cars. The thing is importing a car are full of hassle, first there’s the administration fiasco between Suzuki Indonesia and Suzuki Japan, that’s for sure. Then there’s the hazard of importing a car from far away land physically (well, you won’t know what happened to the car on its way here), not to mention the time and cost it took to ship cars from overseas.

I wholeheartedly understand why Suzuki want to “degrade” the caste of Swift. After all by doing this Suzuki now has a complete line of products ranging from the affordable entry level Karimun Estillo, to the not so expensive neutered Swift, to the rightly priced all terrain SX-4, the coming soon SX-4 sedan, and to the top of the line Grand Vitara. All products ranging from US$10K to US$25K.

Now my decision of buying a Swift has been decimated to the lot… I do feel sad because the car was the best choice for a full optioned car under the price of US$15K. It seems the curse of Honda rears its head again, probably I will buy the all new Honda Fit/Jazz, a not so bad model. I wanted to buy SX-4 though but kind of afraid Suzuki Indonesia is going to pull the same trick with neutering the SX-4 as it did with the Swift. If I bought the fully optioned Swift back then, probably I will feel alienated by Suzuki Indonesia decision to neuter all existing Swift. Because after all, how can I brag and persuade people to use the Swift if the existing Swift is not exactly the same product I used? Don’t start about the exclusion of Airbag and ABS doesn’t bring about different driving experience, it does, wait until you gotten into a situation when those things safe your life… I had.