The common wisdom seems to be that midsize cars have pretty much had it in the U.S. new car market. Everyone and their brother (and sister, parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, and casual acquaintance) is buying a crossover, right?
Midsize sedans are pretty much the flip phone of 2017. Sure, a few people still get them, but, really. . . .
Well, it turns out that while there is some slippage in the sales numbers of midsize sedans, through September, midsize cars, with sales of 1,481,126 units, are (taking pickup trucks out of the picture) the third-highest segment in the industry.
Yes, entry CUVs—as in the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V, the Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, etc.—represent the King Kong category, with January to September sales of 2,483,228 units.
But the midsize number doesn’t trail that of compact cars by all that much, as those slightly smaller vehicles had 1,643,896 units moved, for a difference of 162,770 vehicles.
Yet if we go to fourth place, midsize CUVs, they came in at 920,880, or 560,246 units fewer than midsize cars.
And if you’re Honda, you feel pretty good about those midsize numbers because through September it sold 250,802 of them. As in the Accord.
Ray Mikiciuk, assistant vice president, Honda Sales, American Honda Motor Co., points out in the latest “Autoline After Hours” that based on that number, if the Accord was a brand onto itself, it would outsell 30 other existing brands, companies including Volkswagen, Dodge, Mercedes, Mazda, Buick, Chrysler, etc.
Not bad. (And if the Honda Civic was a brand, it would be above the Accord, so it would outsell 31 others.)
Mikiciuk is on the show to talk about the all-new, 10th-generation Honda Accord. This is a substantial overhaul of the vehicle, with particular attention this time on the overall styling of the car, inside and out. Especially out. There the vehicle has a low, lean, wide stance with sharply formed body panels. Inside, there is an extensive use of high-quality materials on all trims, as well as an increase of passenger volume by 2.5 cubic feet on the LX and Sport trim (105.6 cubic feet total). And they’ve increased the size of the trunk, too (by 0.9 cubic feet on the cars with the 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter models, and 3.2 cubic feet on the Hybrid), so the trunk size across the board is 16.7 cubic feet.
The Accord has always been produced at the Honda of America Manufacturing (HAM) plant in Marysville, Ohio, and the 10th generation is no different. Honda invested $267-million and hired an addition 300 people to prepare the plant for the 2018 Accord.
And we also have Don Warnock, Plant Program Leader, for 2018 Honda Accord up from Marysville to talk about the manufacturing operations for the new car, which includes a first for the vehicle, a laser brazing process that joins the roof to the body side panels so that there is no need for a garish over the rain channels. Also brought to the process is adhesive bonding, some 15 meters in all.
Here’s a number that is completely astonishing: 30.
Generally when there is a complete changeover from one model to another in an assembly plant, there is a non-trivial amount of downtime involved.
According to Warnock, the change from the 9th-generation Accord to the 10th amounted to a loss of just 30 vehicles—and know that the new car has a shorter length, a longer wheelbase, a lower height, is wider, and has wider wheel tracks, so the dimensional changes are non-trivial.
In addition to the Accord, Sharon Silke Carty of Automotive News joins “Autoline’s” John McElroy and me, as we discuss a variety of subjects, including management changes at Ford, Delphi’s on-going investments in autonomous technology, and juch more on this edition of the show, which has a scary look to it (seriously), which you can see here.
Making improvements to existing engines, as well as working toward something entirely different.
Although the term “continuous improvement” is generally associated with another company, Honda is certainly pursuing that approach, as is evidenced by the Accord, which is now in its ninth generation.
The engineers at Munro & Associates have taken a perfectly sound BMW i3 and taken it apart. Completely apart. And they are impressed with what they’ve discovered about how the EV is engineered.