Honda to cut production of new Civic, other models

Thursday, 5 May 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

DETROIT: Honda Motor Co. warned US dealers Monday that it will run short of popular models such as the Civic compact later this summer because of parts shortages caused by Japan’s earthquake.

It said normal production may not return until the end of the year.

Honda will significantly cut production of the new 2012 Civic, the sixth most popular car in the US, through the summer, if not longer.

In addition, the 2012 version of the CR-V small SUV will be delayed by at least a month this fall. To make up for shortages, Honda will keep making the 2011 version.

Both vehicles are made in North America, but like other automakers, Honda must cut production because it’s running low on Japanese imports of chips, sensors and other parts. Japanese plants that supply them were damaged by the 11 March earthquake or hampered by power outages.

Nearly every major auto company has had to idle factories due to shortages. Honda, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. have been hit particularly hard. Supply companies are scrambling to build their parts elsewhere, but setting up alternate factories takes months.

Honda, which makes 80 percent of the vehicles sold in North American at plants in the region, also said it will be able to import only a limited number of Japan-built cars in the US That means dealers won’t be able to order the Fit subcompact, and the CR-Z, Insight and Civic gas-electric hybrids until later in the year.

“Our goal remains to normalise overall production sometime around the end of the year,” John Mendel, Executive Vice President of Sales for American Honda, wrote in the dealer memo.

Shortages also will cut supply of some Acuras, Honda’s luxury cars. Dealers won’t be able to order the TSX small car and wagon and the RL large sedan until later in the year, the memo said.

The shortages come at a time when gasoline in the U.S. is hitting $4 a gallon in 13 states. That normally drives up sales of fuel-efficient models from Honda and Toyota.

Honda spokeswoman Christina Ra conceded that the production cuts could send some buyers to other brands, but she said some buyers might be willing to wait.

“We can certainly beef up production once things get back to normal,” she said.

Honda sold nearly 67,000 Civics through March, up 21 per cent from last year. Sales of the CR-V, which ranks No. 11 in US sales, were up 58 per cent to just over 57,000 through March.

Some industry analysts think production cuts by Japanese automakers could help General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai and other automakers that have not been hit as hard by parts shortages.

GM, Ford and Hyundai have far better entries in the compact car market than in past years, and buyers who would automatically have bought a Honda or Toyota may end up trying other brands.

Mendel’s memo said Honda would have to stop taking orders for some paint colours due to lack of a certain shiny pigment made only in Japan. Ra said the colours are types of red, blue, dark gray and white.

Last month Honda said it would slow down production at its 10 US and Canadian auto factories into at least early May because of shortages. The company still says none of its 21,000 North American factory workers will be laid off. Toyota has made similar moves in North America.

Separately, a Toyota engine factory in Huntsville, Ala., remains closed for lack of electricity. Alabama was devastated by tornadoes on Wednesday, and company spokesman Mike Goss said Toyota isn’t sure when the plant will reopen.

The plant makes engines for the Tundra and Tacoma pickups, and the Sequoia SUV.

Goss said factories that assemble the trucks have not been affected so far. The pickups are made in San Antonio, Texas, while the Sequoia is made in Princeton, Ind.


Honda expands recall to check 833,000 air bags

(Reuters) - Honda Motor Co Ltd expanded an earlier recall of Honda and Acura vehicles over airbags that could deploy with too much pressure, causing injuries or fatalities, the company said. The expanded recall adds more than 833,000 vehicles for the model years 2001 through 2003.

Some of these vehicles contain replacement airbags that could contain the defect. Honda is looking for 2,430 replacement airbags that could contain the defect, but could not locate them all, leading to the large recall.

This is the fourth time Honda has widened its airbag recall. The first recall related to this issue was in 2008.

The number of vehicles affected now stands at 1.65 million, according to figures reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These additional vehicles were not included in earlier safety recalls because the original airbag modules on the driver’s side were not affected by the issue. But replacement airbags could contain the defect, Honda said.

Honda told safety regulators that just 0.29 percent of the affected vehicles are likely to contain the defect.

In certain vehicles, excess pressure could cause the airbag inflator to rupture. Metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material causing injury or even a fatality.

A “small number” of injuries and two fatalities are linked to the airbag recalls, Honda spokeswoman Christina Ra said. These were not recent and did not kick off this move, Ra said.

The recall includes some 2001 and 2002 Accord and Civic sedans, 2002 Odyssey minivans and 2002 and 2003 CR-V crossover vehicles. It also includes 2002 and 2003 Acura 3.2 TL and 2003 3.2 CL vehicles.