The next generation of the Honda Civic sedan and coupe for sale in the U.S. will be developed in North America, said Erik Berkman, president of Honda R&D Americas.
The decision was made by global top management last month, Berkman said at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars here.
The next generation is expected around 2016. It will have multiple body styles -- a 5-door hatchback is under consideration for North America -- as well as many different powertrains. It will be built in 14 different plants and sold in 160 countries although 55 percent of global sales currently are in Canada and the U.S., Berkman said.
The current Civic debuted last year to mixed reviews.
"We will continue to refine the current model this fall," Berkman said. "It's the right thing to do."
"They are fairly substantial styling changes," Berkman said in an interview, "most notably in the interior but also some sheet metal. It's been 'sportified' a bit more but is still sophisticated."
Lessons learned have been applied to the all-new 2013 Accord that goes on sale this fall. Pricing has not been released for Honda's highest-volume vehicle. The current model starts at $22,270, including delivery charges.
The Accord plan was done and being executed when criticism of the Civic came out, prompting changes before the concept was shown in January at the North American International Auto Show.
Today Honda released teaser photos of the production versions of the new sedan and coupe.
The 9th-generation Accord goes on sale as Honda celebrates the 30th anniversary of U.S. manufacturing at the Marysville, Ohio, plant that will have been building the Accord for three decades in November.
But Berkman said Honda did not plan the timing, nor are there anniversary editions in the works.
The Accord competes in the largest and most hotly contested segment with strong entries including the new Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima and the Hyundai Sonata as well as the perennially strong Toyota Camry.
Jim Lentz, chief executive of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., would not say if the Camry can maintain past volumes of 400,000 sales annually but he said he welcomes competition in the segment that accounts for 1.8 million sales.
So far this year, Honda has sold more than 183,800 Accords in the U.S. -- up almost 28 percent. The segment was up 36 percent in July.
At this year's Detroit auto show, Honda announced that North America would lead global development of the NSX supercar that will be built in the U.S. in a dedicated facility.
More than 20 new models have been developed in North America over the years, including global leadership for the Honda Odyssey, Ridgeline and Pilot and the Acura MDX, Berkman said.
Honda makes 85 percent of the vehicles it sells here in North America, Berkman said, and about 30% of the North American lineup was developed here.
Eventually virtually all Honda products sold here will be built here, he said.
"Products imported from Japan are 100% yen-based which is not helpful to the bottom line."
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