News - Honda
Honda president puts the foot down
All change at Honda as president looks to jolt Japanese company into high gear
25 Feb 2016
HONDA Motor Company president and CEO Takahiro Hachigo has put a broom through the company, announcing major changes to top management and company structure to streamline operations and regain the Honda mojo.
To take effect on the first day of the Japanese financial year, April 1, the shake-up includes a new vehicle development structure to simplify a system that he said had become too complex and demanding.
Mr Hachigo – a one-time chassis engineer who took the top role at Japan’s third-biggest motor company a year ago amidst a flurry of safety recalls and product introduction hiccups – also announced that Honda would put plug-in hybrid cars at the core of its electrified vehicle program, incorporating such powertrains in at least one variant of all major models, including an all-new model due out in the United States in 2018.
Outlining the changes at a press conference this week in Tokyo, Mr Hachigo said model-development processes at Honda had grown increasingly complex, resulting in increased man-hours and a heavier workload for those involved.
He said he had begun to see organisational issues such as unclear responsibilities and insufficient delegation that could “seriously harm the driving force behind Honda’s creativity”.
“We will establish a structure where development teams at the spot can concentrate on creating automobiles and focus on the development of one whole vehicle as one product under a consistent concept,” he said.
Mr Hachigo said new product development management positions would be created to take control of engineering, design and evaluation of all Honda and Acura models globally.
“Through these changes, we will realise a development structure that can further highlight the unique characteristics of Honda,” he said.
“The roles and responsibilities of each area such as production, purchasing, quality, service and sales will be further clarified. At the same time, we will establish a new structure which enables us to make simple and speedy decisions.” Among the nine resignations among top managers at Honda will be the chairman, Fumihiko Ike, and executive vice-president Tetsuo Iwamura.
Honda North America president Takuji Yamada – a one-time sales and marketing co-ordinator at Honda Australia in the 1990s – will retire.
In a rarity in Japan, a woman has been appointed to a senior role, with Askao Suzuki becoming an operating officer. She previously oversaw Honda’s Chinese joint-venture with Dongfeng Motor.
Mr Hachigo, who is probably best known for heading up development of the American Odyssey and then the second-generation CR-V, also announced that Honda would aim to have electrified powertrains in two-thirds of all cars produced by 2030.
The main drive would be behind plug-in hybrids, which would account for half of all Honda vehicle sales by that date, but also fuel-cell and battery electric cars.
A new plug-in hybrid powertrain has been under development in Japan, and is likely to make its debut in a new vehicle promised by Mr Hachigo in 2018.
Honda is set to launch its hydrogen fuel-cell car, the Clarity, in Japan next month.
An all-new fuel-cell system being developed with General Motors is expected to come on stream in 2020.
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