LOS ANGELES -- Despite years of watching teenagers slam their Civics with aftermarket add-ons, Honda hasn't had a division that makes factory-engineered, street-legal, warranty-backed, go-fast parts.
American Honda's factory aftermarket parts division announced last week at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show that it will provide dealer-installed tuner kits to give stock Hondas more roar.
Previously, parts made by Honda's in-house racing arm, Honda Performance Development, were for racetracks only. But years of racing have given Honda's engineering team plenty of experience to make parts that the legal, warranty and compliance departments can approve.
As is typical for Honda, the Honda Performance Development unit is starting small and low-key. At launch, HPD is offering only a performance kit for the slow-selling CR-Z hybrid hatchback -- and only for the stick-shift model, because the kit generates too much torque for the continuously variable transmission version.
"We're sticking our first toe in the water," Philip LaPointe, manager of HPD Street Performance, said in a recent interview in Los Angeles. "We didn't want to start with too-high volume. We need to know who's going to build the parts and distribute them. We need to get our dealers and logistics up to speed."
LaPointe hopes that go-fast parts for mainstream models will go on sale during the next few years. But compact-car tuners likely will have to wait for the next generation of the Civic, coming in spring 2016, for an HPD kit, LaPointe said.
"The dream scenario is to have performance parts available at [new-product] launch," LaPointe said.
Equipping a car with HPD parts will diminish the manufacturer's warranty. Honda traditionally has a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. But because Honda expects those with HPD kits to drive their cars at "spirited track days," the warranty will be reduced to 3 years/36,000 miles, LaPointe said. The 15-year catalytic converter emissions warranty remains intact, thanks to tuning help from Jackson Racing of Yorba Linda, Calif.
The warranty applies only if a dealer installs the kit. Honda is still determining whether any powertrain warranty will apply for customer-installed parts -- probably not, LaPointe said.
Honda received the final push to create HPD street-legal parts from a hopped-up 2010 CR-Z created for the SEMA show.
Honda considered delivering the HPD kits turnkey, from the factory, similar to Roush and Shelby kits for the Ford Mustang. But Honda managers realized that dealers could augment their grosses by selling the kits, post-title.
The chassis kit went on sale last week, while the supercharger kit arrives in spring 2014. Pricing has not been announced.
HPD's tentative slogan is "Track Proven. Street Reliable."