January 11, 2012 by staff
Honda has sold 11 million Accords in the U.S. since 1976, but its sales dropped 16.6% in 2011 to a total of 235,625 as the company contended with inventory shortages caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Over the course of 2011, Honda slashed 200,000 vehicles from its global production schedule.
This year, said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, Honda expects to sell more than 300,000 Accords in the U.S.
“To say the past year has been one of tremendous challenge is an understatement,” Mendel said. “We’re here to serve notice to the competitors that Honda is again firing on all cylinders.”
But the competitive landscape is different, especially in the midsize sedan segment, from 2007 when Honda introduced the outgoing generation of the Accord.
The Accord is facing steep competition from the Hyundai Sonata/Kia Optima, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, and Volkswagen Passat and soon will contend with the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu.
The Sonata offered a more daring look. The 2012 Camry, launched last fall, isn’t as forward looking from a styling perspective, but even the old version was the best-selling car in the U.S. again.
On Monday, Ford unveiled an all-new Fusion with an aggressive-looking grille. The Fusion goes into production this fall.
The styling of the 2013 Accord is an evolution of the current model, with a rising beltline and subtle rear fender flares. Honda received heavy criticism for the conservative styling of the 2012 Civic and quickly revised certain aspects of its exterior late in the fall.
The coupe’s size doesn’t change much versus the current model, but the 2013 sedan will be smaller and of lighter weight than the model it replaces.
Both the redesigned coupe and sedan are to go on sale this fall.
This year, Honda is targeting a 23.5% sales increase for its mainstream Honda brand and a 40% sales increase for Acura in the U.S.
Sporting Honda’s first direct-injection engine for improved fuel economy and power, the new Accord coupe will look almost exactly like the concept introduced Tuesday when it reaches dealerships in the fall. A plug-in hybrid model is to follow next winter.
The direct-injected 181-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder will be paired with a continuously variable transmission.
The 3.5-liter V6 Accord will be the first Honda sedan with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Honda also said it is working on a plug-in Accord hybrid that will have a city driving range of 10 to 15 miles and top speed of 62 m.p.h. on battery power. A 2.0-liter gasoline engine will power the hybrid the rest of the time.
Charging the battery will take less than four hours with 120 volts and about 90 minutes with 240V.
Mendel declined to say when the plug-in Accord will go on sale. Honda offered a gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Accord last decade, but discontinued it in 2007 because of slow sales.
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