Before, engineers in the research phase created automobile systems in isolated silos. The components were green-lighted independently and then sent to the development phase, where other engineers would install them in a prototype vehicle.
Now, the systems are installed in a prototype vehicle in the research stage to ensure they function seamlessly, Tatebe said.
"We used to check each system individually, not as a whole. Now, we added one more gate," Tatebe said. "If it is OK, then we go to development."
Tatebe said the change adds cost and time to vehicle development. He declined to quantify the increases. But engineers believe weeding out problems early saves time, money and headaches down the road.
The Fit was plagued by computer glitches. From October 2013 through July, Honda had to initiate the four recalls of the Fit Hybrid in Japan, two of which also covered its crossover variant, known as the Vezel Hybrid.
The first three recalls were in response to a software defect that could delay gear engagement in the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission or immobilize the car. The fourth, on July 10, covered 175,356 Fit and Vezel hybrids and fixed a software glitch in the engine control unit that regulated torque.
While the U.S.-edition Fit hasn't been hit by similar recalls because the hybrid version isn't sold there, Honda called back 6,200 of the cars in the U.S. last month to inspect and replace improperly installed interior A-pillar covers.
In August, Honda said it would modify 12,000 U.S. Fits that had been sold to retrofit them with an engineering change that improved the car's showing in a key industry crash test.