Saturday, March 24, 2012

Honda's new CEO means business...or at least it should

Being CEO myself, I tend to look at other CEO's with a sceptic viewpoint.
They are normally "dime counters" (a.k.a. economists), "professional bullshitters" (a.k.a. economical engineers...which along with "dime counters" and "politicians" created the economical crisis we live today) or plain managers. These last can be divided into 2 types (project managers or traditional mangers)...and then the business type will dictate it's type-for-the-job index.

I'm, in truth, a Project Manager with engineering roots, witch makes me suitable for companies who's business relies essentially on Projects... traditional manager are suitable for "operation" or "process" based businesses.
The automotive business is a mix of these 2. You need to constantly create NEW cars, described as Projects (creating growth by improvement), and then you need to mass produce these cars as what's described as an operation (archiving consolidation).
Till recently, most CEO's are background "dime counters", making them the worse person in the job for creating interesting products, but the best to make them cheap.

Honda is an Engineering Company.
Like most successful engineering companies, It's been run by lovers.. No, I don't mean the pretty blond that dates the CEO making everyone believe that she's just his secretary, but rather the CEO it's self in love with the company. Mostly this means that in an engineering company, they are Engineers.
As with many Engineers in a Management Position, they will soon need to acquire Management Knowledge and that can create 2 different types of CEO's... The Project Manager type, and the Process Manager Type.
That doesn't mean however that they can manage as well as they would love to.
From It's creation till today, Honda had 7 CEO's:
  • 1948–1973 – Soichiro Honda
  • 1973–1983 – Kiyoshi Kawashima
  • 1983–1990 – Tadashi Kume
  • 1990–1998 – Nobuhiko Kawamoto
  • 1998–2004 – Hiroyuki Yoshino
  • 2004–2009 – Takeo Fukui
  • since 2009 – Takanobu Ito
I've been an Honda fan until the recent "eco mania disease" I call Honda's DarkAge. And that's Takeo Fukui's ruling time. Takeo Fukui's has a degree in Chemical Engineering (ok, not quite the mechanical guy I expected), but it's curriculum includes Honda Racing and Honda R&D, so I would expect better from him.
Honda used to create good consumer projects with economy and affordability in mind, and then go weird and create type-r versions of those same products for the passionate ones. That seemed like a perfect thing until politicians (probably the only thing worse than economical engineers), decided to use the car's CO emissions as a pretext for excessive taxation. And that doomed the industry.
Honda, much like Toyota immediately gave into this mass stupidity where instead of using the taxes already being paid (for ages I might add) to plant trees and filter out carbon, the cars have to emit less and less carbon. I'm surprised that the damn politicians didn't yet fit a face mask with a catalytic converter to each and every Olympic athlete and football player...I mean when they breathe deeply under physical stress, they will be emitting more carbon than a prius!!!

To sum up, the industry was already counting dimes instead of focusing in creating good products, when the politicians joined the game and made these  shift their entire product range to dull, and ultimately bad products. Why the BAD word? Cause a hybrid vehicle will eat more gas than a full engined gas car (because it lacks engine and has excessive weight due in part to the huge battery pack in the boot)... and the battery pack is created from heavy metals mined and fused creating more impact on the environment then all the f1 engines in the world together...and this is just part of the equation,, cause when the life-cycle ends they have to be recycled and this creates more impact...or left to rotten that is even worse.

So it's true that a hybrid is a bad car right? Not quite.
In the essence of the tree-huggers GREEN car, the hybrid is  stupid and bad idea. But if you reduce the battery pack and replace the metal battery for the brand new membrane accumulators (rendering it useless for consumption reduction purposes as it's still an emerging technology and doesn't yet supply/accumulate lot's of energy), and then use the electric motors to torque the huge gas engine further than it would (like Lexus did, like Porshe concepts to do) than it's actually a good thing.

And then we get to the article:
Meet Honda's CEO - Takanobu Ito.
He entered Honda as a Chassis Design Research and Development Expert, and was one of the responsibles for the NSX all aluminium chassis. He was one of the Engineers behind one of Honda's best project till date.
So I'm expecting him to be THAT kind of good CEO that creates good products instead of destroying them to "count dimes".
And he decided that the Civic should have a Type-r again, and a new NSX should arise... and it's a hybrid one.
Now before grabbing your tomatoes, remember my previous paragraph...the hybrid that actually doesn't give a damn about the birds and the squirls and their erection problems due to CO' the only Hybrid that actually makes sense.

The Rising Sun prepares for a come back
Takanobu Ito is preparing the Type-R come back (although unsure about the type-r badge yet... can't quite understand why).

And the new NSX concept is beautiful as you can see...
...but hey, Honda's new design is not the issue, but rather the lack of engine, so the new NSX is pretty much like the old one and uses a V6 (not my favourite platform, but after seeing Honda sell the CRX replacement as a 1.5hybrid with 124bhp...I'll take anything that outputs over 100bhp/tonne)

So where does the Hybrid part fit? Well picture a rear wheel drive car that's a 4wd car. In truth, the NSX is a MECHANICAL ENGINE-TO-GEARBOX-TO-WHEEL RWD platform, but a couple of torque electrical engines have been built into the 2 front wheel hubs, and that means that it can torque the front wheels into a corner with electronic precision that is very, VERY efficient and hard to beat.
Check my article comparing the Asterio Roadster with the Audi eTron that uses the very same principle.
NOW THAT's an Hybrid I would buy. Pure, atmospheric mechanical grunt driving the rear wheels and 2 torque engines driving the front and signing you into PERFECT apex lines, melting rubber on the way due to the extreme G's it's pulling.

It's a much needed change
Honda has finally realized that the ONLY cars they built that are successful, are the "old" ones.
The Accord, and the CR-V are today's success story's...followed by the not so successful (no wonder) Odyssey, and then comes the flops, the CR-Z, the Inside and the Ridgeline...leaving the obvious huge failure (with vomit provoking design) Crosstour.
The Market Is reacting to this lack of vision and things seem to start to change. My S2000 is pulling the 8 year line and I'm thinking that one of these days it will have to stop being abused dally and start having a more calm weekend abuse only...but how would I buy a daily driver that doesn't render-me a depressive state? not much to choose from unless I want another 8 year old car :S!
FINALLY Honda is planing to move out of the closet it's locked it self in... and together with Toyota's rethinking the Supra and creating the 86 replacement, I would guess that the sun will rise again.