Straight from Honda new President, Takanobu Ito, Honda cancels development of rear wheel drive cars. A sad news for many enthusiasts because they balked at the fact that the previous Honda President, Takeo Fukui announced exciting projects for Honda, namely a new flagship rear wheel drive sedan, powered with a new V8 engine and the arrival of the most awaited replacement for Honda supercar, NSX. Spy shots of the new rear wheel drive mule car are abound, and the NSX replacement, sporting its V10 engine is screaming around the test track, everything is ready… Until Takanobu Ito arrives on the scene. Takanobu Ito is no stranger to Honda spirited roots, he is in fact, the guy in charge of creating NSX all aluminum body. So he knows a thing or two about what makes a great car (not an excessive engine).
The move is warranted though, not because Ito-san hates the enthusiasts or something, it’s just Honda couldn’t afford making these so called “question marks” products… At least according to BCG high growth/low demand matrix. The halo effect is there positively, but how is the demand? Let’s take a look at Honda profit ending 2008… 20 Billion Yen… WOWZA! A lot of cash no? No! Ending 2007, Honda profit is roughly 200 Billion Yen, 10 times of that last year. What Honda needs are cash cow products, products that makes profit like well, Fit/Jazz, Accord, Freed, and anything in between.
The new flagship sedan would just create costs and like any late comers, it will not sell well. Honda will need to cover for loss of the new car, something that Honda simply just couldn’t afford. What they can afford though is the creation of car variants from existing platform, that’s why the ZDX came to be, because it’s just a bigger Accord.
So what if Honda doesn’t have a 370Z, RX-8, ZR-1, SLK? What Honda needs now is to survive and that’s a priority over slow selling (albeit super sexy) cars anytime, anytime. Takanobu Ito will have a tough time and will have his photo on the target range of any misled Honda fans. But for true fans who understand the situation, he is actually a savior who dares to take the seat and all the responsibility (and one of the responsibilities is to take shit from enthusiasts).
But there’s still good news though; the NSX replacement is shelved, but that’s just the V10 version. There is news about Honda going to create another supercar… A hybrid supercar. Yep, Honda is rumored to scrap the V10 engine for a V6 hybrid system, just like Toyota planned hybrid Supra revival. But unlike Toyota’s hybrid 400 horsepower engine, Honda own super hybrid will generate up to 450 horsepower. This new bigger hybrid system will also found its way onto family friendly cars, probably destined to found its way under Acura hoods.
My take on the cancellation of anything rear wheel coming out from Honda is not the end all devastating news. So what if Honda or Acura is not becoming like Mercedes, BMW or even Toyota/Lexus? Honda well, they are going after Audi and Volvo… At least they both have the same front wheel vanilla cars and AWD spicier version. However both Audi and Volvo are not so stingy with their engine offering, at least there’s turbo and big V8s on Volvo side, and Audi have like what… V8, V10, W12… Acura could have gone the way of the Audis and I would care less just add more engines… A-VTEC would be nice Ito-san!