Honda profits drop and Nissan pulls ahead of it in unit sales

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by John Horner, Apr 27, 2004.

  1. John Horner

    John Horner Guest

    Excerpted from today's Wall Street Journal:"TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. reported a 37% drop in net profit for the fiscal
    fourth quarter ended in March due to slumping sales and rising costs in
    North America, combined with the detrimental effects of a stronger yen."

    "The company was unseated by rival Nissan Motor Co. as Japan's No. 2 car
    maker in terms of unit sales. For the fiscal year ended March 31, Honda said
    it sold 2.98 million cars globally, while Nissan's sales surpassed the
    three-million mark, placing it second after Toyota Motor Corp."

    "In North America, a drop in sales of two key Honda products -- the Civic
    and the Accord -- caused overall sales for the region to fall 8.2% to
    369,000 from 402,000 in the quarter. "
    My take: Honda's insular corporate culture and slow reaction time to shifts
    in market demands combined with strong work by several of it's competitors
    and unheard of levels of consumer quality complaints is already taking it's
    toll on sales and operations. Honda's failure to play in the growing rear
    wheel drive segments (luxury sedans, pickup trucks, sports and sporting
    cars) combined with massive quality problems like the automatic transmission
    fiascos is hurting the brand in a big way.

    Look at the bold move Nissan has been making over these past several years.
    Honda is sitting on the sidelines by comparison.

    John Horner, Apr 27, 2004
  2. John Horner

    mike Guest

    nissan made some damn ugly cars. some of em still are. bout the only real
    nice one, and i see em all the time is the altima.

    the new civics and accords are blander than ever.
    mike, Apr 28, 2004
  3. John Horner

    John Horner Guest

    I don't like the styling of many of the Nissans, but I think the marketing
    point is that it is better to have 20% of the population love your design
    and 80% hate it then it is to have 90% of people think it is "OK".

    Right now Honda is doing bland or bland-to-ugly designs. I own an '03
    Accord and had to get past the looks in order to buy the car. The front end
    design is especially clumsy. The side view is ok and the rear view isn't
    bad, but the front looks like a large oceanic fish which bears it's young
    out of it's mouth .. and is due to deliver in a few days.

    John Horner, Apr 28, 2004
  4. John Horner

    Sean D Guest

    Actually, I like the look of the new Accord. mostly the headlight. It
    gives it an agresive look. Taking into account it's a family sedan that it.
    Now the Camry, that's a bland, ugly car. I agree about the looks of the
    civic though. I had and loved a 2000 civic sedan but I absolutely late the
    new civics. Clumsy interior, terrible bland exterior and they cut every
    corner possible.

    Sean D, Apr 28, 2004
  5. John Horner

    John Horner Guest

    Indeed, I think that the visible panty lines, er I mean visible cost cutting
    which is noticeable on many current model Hondas is a very bad sign.

    Cost cutting, like wearing underwear, is fine and neccessary ... but the
    world should generally not be able to see it :).

    John Horner, Apr 28, 2004
  6. John Horner

    Sean Dinh Guest

    The new Altima's back is so defined and pretty, whereas the Accord's is so
    damn round and ugly.
    Sean Dinh, Apr 28, 2004
  7. John Horner

    KWW Guest

    The Honda Pilot is so ugly even its mother would hate it. Besides, these
    days the fashion among kids is to not wear underwear - gross but true.
    KWW, Apr 28, 2004
  8. Is Honda really that much different from any other Japanese company as far
    as corporate culture goes? As for the latest Accord it *was* mostly
    designed in the U.S. Hmm I wonder where the designers came from?...
    G.M.?... Ford?... Chrysler?
    Nissan has been firmly taken in hand by Renault since the takeover in '99,
    notably by Carlos Ghosn... most of the reason for their spectacular
    recovery. I've heard that in the near future, Renault may decide to market
    a couple of their models through Nissan dealerships.

    Rgds, George Macdonald

    "Just because they're paranoid doesn't mean you're not psychotic" - Who, me??
    George Macdonald, Apr 29, 2004
  9. Front end design is being taken out of the hands of the mfrs:

    Honda, with its eco-friendly culture has been moving in that direction for
    a while now, i.e. pedestrian friendly, but these new regs for Europe are
    going to make a mess of car design. I wonder if anybody in the EU has even
    done a cost-benefit analysis on this - it just seems so much like
    regulation for regulation's sake... apparently a common theme in the EU
    bureaucratic machine. Instead of a few thousand killed, they could end up
    with a few thousand maimed para/quadra-plegics.

    If you take design parameters for a modern family sedan: pedestrian
    friendly front end, high roofline (for in-car video conveniece?), maximum
    occupant space, large trunk, high beltline seems to be "in" for some
    reason, etc., it doesn't leave much room for playing with external

    Rgds, George Macdonald

    "Just because they're paranoid doesn't mean you're not psychotic" - Who, me??
    George Macdonald, Apr 29, 2004
  10. John Horner

    JM Guest

    I have a 1996 I30t, and did not buy a Nissan to replace it. Bought a
    2004 Accord instead (although right now it is a 'parade' car and only
    comes out on sunny weekends).

    Under Renault's management, Nissan has concentrated on lowering their
    costs to the point that the Altima, for example, has a
    cheap-rental-car look, a no-no for a $27,000 car, and serious
    up-and-down pitching in the SE model even on smooth roads. Overall,
    they've focussed on bigger engined, premium-gas hungry cars. Mostly
    with cheaper 4 speed auto trannies instead of 5 speed. They have
    limited suspension expertise or at least limited willingness to use
    expensive parts -- most of their high-performance cars sacrifice
    smoothness for handling. (The rear-drive chassis G35 and Z being an

    Their general formula seems to be cheap upholstry, big engines,
    simpler transmissions, poor to middlin' ride. Even reliability has
    started taking a back seat.

    Sure I don't doubt that they'd like to sneak some cheap Renaults into
    the Nissan dealer.

    JM, Apr 29, 2004
  11. That's what car building is all about - controlling cost. The formula for
    getting it right for quality has a very narrow tolerance - Honda seems to
    have missed in some ways with the current Civic and Accord. BTW I've seen
    a few comments that the G35, in its market sector, has an unrefined feel
    about the engine/trans.
    Well in the current political climate it probably wouldn't work:) but
    there's nothing "cheap" about Renaults. They have some impressive cars
    like the Laguna in the mid-size sector. If you've ever been to France,
    you'll know that the French beat the hell out of their cars and the seem to
    take it - the only thing they don't get a lot of is salt on the roads.

    Rgds, George Macdonald

    "Just because they're paranoid doesn't mean you're not psychotic" - Who, me??
    George Macdonald, Apr 30, 2004
  12. John Horner

    NJSS Guest

    IMHO, Honda still does what Honda has always been known for doing extremely
    well. Econmical, relaible, high value-cars that are more fun to drive than say

    The proof is in the pudding, which for cars is resale value. Resale value is
    still at or very near the top. Just try pricing a 1998 Odyssey.

    Where Honda is breaking down is that many of its designs are not 'edgy' enough,
    I.E. they are too bland.. Also, the lack of rear-wheel models, especially
    pick-ups, large SUVs, etc is bad. Furthermore, the lack of a V-8 limits sales
    in the high-end sedan market, as well as, the aforementioned real-wheel drive
    vehicles. Finally, other than the S2000 they don't offer any convertibles.

    Nissan has done an incredible job with its VQ 3.5 liter V-6. Not only is it a
    great engine, but they have figured out a way putting into sedans, sports cars,
    trucks, SUVs, minivans, front-drive, rear-drive and four-wheel drive

    I have followed the auto industry very closely for about 40 years and I have
    never seen an entire company built around one engine.
    NJSS, May 2, 2004
  13. John Horner

    mike Guest

    it makes it a lot cheaper to build cars. one thing i dont understand is why
    anyone would even consider buying a maxima, when it has the same engine and
    platform as the altima.
    mike, May 3, 2004
  14. Bought one last October. 50K, nice interior and mechanical, some
    paint damage (which didn't matter much to me.) We paid $10,200 US.
    Very happy with it except for AT (would much prefer MT) and handling
    (would much prefer lower Cg, i.e. car.)
    Actually, this has always been a criticism of Accord and Civic.
    I don't think that Honda really needs either of those. The Pilot was
    the right size and whatever 4wd system they use is satisfactory for
    the intended buyer. Really big SUVs and full size PUs share common
    architecture and it isn't clear that it is a viable segment for the
    Japanese manufacturers. (Toyota is doing OK with the SUVs, but the PU
    sales are trivial. Nissan's latest introductions in these areas are
    bombing.) I predict that the crossovers will drive the medium-sized
    truck-based SUVs off the market. Small pickups are almost extinct

    What Honda really needs in the way of rear drive is a replacement for
    the RL and maybe a medium priced sporty coup/sedan.
    It wouldn't surprise me if Honda brought out a small V8 in the next
    few years. OTOH, hybrid technology might be a viable alternative.
    Gordon McGrew, May 4, 2004
  15. John Horner

    mike Guest

    not from what i see in southern california. tundras are *very* popular.
    besides, it took the half-assed T100 for toyota to realize they needed to go
    not really.
    thats why toyota cant build enough 4-door tacomas to meet demand?
    mike, May 4, 2004
  16. I don't have numbers on 2003, but in 2002 Tundra sales were down 9%.
    WSJ reported yesterday that Nissan has about 120 days inventory on
    Armadas and the new PU. That's pretty poor for brand new vehicles.
    In 2002 sales of small pickups declined 12%. Toyota did a little
    better than the others. Tacoma sales were down only 6% in 2002.
    Meanwhile, crossover SUVs were up 23%.

    I may have overstated the extinction part, but it is hard to see why
    Honda would want to dive into body-on-frame design to enter a
    declining market when they can adapt an existing platform to move into
    a hot one.
    Gordon McGrew, May 6, 2004
  17. John Horner

    mike Guest

    they need to just do what they do best. toyota does cars and trucks well,
    but doesnt do motorcycles or scooters. honda does. theyre even slipping in
    that market as well.
    mike, May 6, 2004
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