"Dave is a strong Honda leader who brings years of broad-based experience to this key position," American Honda CEO Shinji Aoyama said.
Gardner is a 31-year veteran of Honda and is responsible for a broad portfolio of products for the Canadian unit, including the Honda and Acura auto divisions, Honda motorcycles, power equipment, ATVs and engines. He was named Canada CEO in early 2017.
American Honda's sales rose 0.2 percent last year to just over 1.6 million units. Sales at Honda Canada fell 3.4 percent to 188,828. Both markets fell by low single digits in 2019.
Analysts are predicting that 2020 sales could fall more sharply as consumers pull back and see how the coronavirus plays out. Morgan Stanley said last week that the outbreak could send U.S. auto sales down 9 percent.
Honda already was facing disruption, like much of the auto industry. But unlike other players, it has not partnered extensively with other automakers to share the costs of electrification, autonomous technology and mobility services. It just recently launched its first EV in Europe with modest range.
"They don't have the scope of a big, global automaker like Volkswagen or Toyota, and they don't have the adventuresome spirit of a global automaker like Hyundai-Kia," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader. Hyundai Motor Group sells three EV nameplates and a fuel cell vehicle in the U.S.
"So, they are a relatively small company and a relatively conservative company, and the world's getting tougher for those kind of automakers," he said.