Honda planner: Civic, Accord hitting stride
Vicky Poponi on the new Fit-based crossover shown at the Detroit auto show: "It’s huge inside in a little exterior package."
Vicki Poponi, American Honda assistant vice president of product planning, is seeing the results of her department’s work: a swath of new products hitting dealerships or on the way. She spoke with Staff Reporter Mark Rechtin about what 2013 holds in store.
How is the launch of the freshened 2013 Civic going?
It’s absolutely wonderful. Dealers see the premium interior, and they see it as best in class again. They love the driving enhancements.
What has been the reaction to the Fit-based crossover Honda showed in Detroit?
It’s huge inside in a little exterior package. People are going to be surprised by the space inside. We’ll be splitting segments with the CR-V. There will be no problem getting Gen Y excited about it.
Honda took a big risk by having all four-cylinder Accords equipped with continuously variable transmissions. Any complaints?
There has been no negative feedback. It’s sporty. It’s what it needs to be. It has disconnected the perception that CVTs are whiny rubber bands. There is a real linear power delivery.
What improvements are you looking at for the Acura ILX? It’s off to a slow start.
We’re working on it. One customer set is fine with the 2.0-liter version, while others like the power of the 2.4. We’re seeing some segmentation. But the 2.4 is only available with a manual transmission, so it’s not a lot of buyers. And we can’t fit an automatic into the 2.4 ILX as launched.
But you could make modifications to the floorpan for the mid-cycle change...
The Acura RLX flagship can be priced as high as $60,000. Are people ready to pay that much for an Acura that isn’t a supercar?
Sure they will. The point is that we go to market with a packaging strategy. We don’t do options. So the Krell audio system is included, whereas with our competitors, if you want the [Lexus] Mark Levinson audio system, it’s thousands more. You’re comparing apples and oranges. There is a lot of value in that car.
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