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Honda defends lack of AEB on lower grade Civics

Safety net: AEB is offered as part of the Honda Sensing suite of active safety gear on the flagship Civic VTi-LX.

AEB only offered on top-spec Civic, but Honda looking at tech for future upgrades

15 May 2017

HONDA Australia has defended its decision to not offer autonomous emergency braking (AEB) on its lower and mid-grade Civic variants, saying that customers prefer other non-safety features built into the price of the car.

The technology is available as part of the Honda Sensing active safety suite that is only offered as standard on the top-spec $33,590 (plus on-road costs) VTi-LX Civic sedan and hatch, that includes a Collision Mitigation Braking System (AEB), Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Lane Keeping Assist and Road Departure Mitigation.

Honda Sensing and AEB are not offered on any other grade, even as an option.

Some rivals, such as the Mazda3, offer AEB from base level, while others, such as the Holden Astra and Subaru Impreza, offer it either slightly further up the range or as an option in lower grades.

When asked if buyers request those sort of safety features in lower grade variants, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the car-maker was “very comfortable” with the safety package on offer in the Civic.

“We are definitely aware of discussions of what some of the others are doing on AEB in particular and we will look at that with future upgrades,” he told journalists at the Civic hatch launch in Adelaide last week. “But as evidenced with Civic sedan, we are pretty comfortable with the package.”

Standard safety gear on all 10th-generation Civics is a reversing camera, six airbags, ABS, traction and stability control, and an emergency stop signal, while VTi-S grades and up gain rear and front parking sensors.

Mr Collins acknowledged that Honda could fit the Honda Sensing suite on any model it wanted, but reiterated that it was satisfied with the spec levels of the Civic.

“It is possible to fit Honda Sensing to anything, which is obviously the full pack, not just AEB, but a whole host of other technologies. We are constantly weighing up the package versus the value versus what we offer.

“So the short answer is we can spec Honda Sensing in whatever we like, but ultimately we are comfortable with the package that we are offering. We will constantly review that and for future upgrades that will be a consideration.”

When asked why the company has not simply offered the pack as an option on lower Civic grades, Mr Collins said the product planners had to weigh up what was appealing to buyers.

“What we are trying to do is have a relatively simple line-up and really offer a package, not just in terms of safety but in terms of all of the other features, that is attractive to customers.

“It is not really in our model to offers heaps and heaps of different options.

The packs we have touched on – the black and orange pack – are really through our accessories department. Our strategy is to very much have a simplified model line-up and offer what the customer really wants.”

Mr Collins said he was unsure how many buyers opt for the flagship VTi-LX because they want the active safety gear, and highlighted the company’s commitment to offering safety gear across all grades.

“Clearly when we are looking at $30-35,000 car it becomes an expectation. And I think that when we are looking at the lower grades, safety is still very critical.

“Don’t get me wrong, it is a major priority of ours. But I think it gets down to the whole package we offer to the market. It certainly becomes a real expectation at the top end, but I think the whole package at the lower end is what we focus on.”

The new Civic sedan and hatch have both been awarded a five star crash safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), but due to the adoption of the European NCAP protocols in 2018, all passenger vehicles will be tested for AEB from next year on.

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