Honda posts strong first quarter, sees higher annual profit

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Honda drove up its profit forecast for the year, citing a more favorable currency exchange rate, after posting a surprise rise in quarterly earnings on the back of a weaker yen and solid demand in Asia.

Japan’s No.3 automaker, however, continues to struggle in its largest market, North America, which accounts for a third of its sales — where sedans, including Honda’s top sellers the Accord and the Civic, have fallen out of fashion as drivers opt for bigger models including SUVs.

Making the situation worse is an overall slowdown in demand in the U.S. auto market, the world’s second largest after China, following years of growth that boosted profits following the global financial crisis.

Honda’s sales in North America skidded 7.6 percent in the first quarter ended June, but this was offset by a 10.8 percent jump in sales in Asia, including China — which the automaker expects will become its largest market this year.

The Civic sedan and the XR-V compact SUV model were strong sellers in China. The country accounted for around 65 percent of all of Honda’s Asian sales.

The automaker’s operating profit in the quarter edged up 0.9 percent to 269.2 billion yen, versus an estimate for a drop to 230.43 billion from seven analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

For the year to March, Honda now expects an operating profit of 725 billion yen ($6.57 billion), versus 705 billion yen forecast earlier, based on the U.S. dollar averaging around 107 yen instead of 105 yen as expected previously.

“We had assumed a rate of 105 yen for the full year, but the yen averaged around 111 yen in the first quarter, so that will have a big impact on full-year operating profit,” senior managing director Kohei Takeuchi told reporters at a briefing.

A softer yen makes exports from Japan cheaper, while also increasing the value of overseas proceeds when converted to the home currency.

[Source: Autoblog]

Senate bill would secure the ‘internet of things,’ from cars to fridges

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A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday is introducing legislation to address vulnerabilities in computing devices embedded in everyday objects — known in the tech industry as the “internet of things” — which experts have long warned poses a threat to global cybersecurity and which has made several recent hacking events all too easy.

Reports of thieves using laptops to steal cars have persisted for years, and white-hat research into hacking cars goes back at least to a 2010 study at the University of Washington. The biggest real-world example surfaced last year when a pair of hackers in Houston were accused of using FCA software on a laptop to steal vehicles, mostly Jeeps, that were spirited away across the Mexican border. Possibly 100 vehicles were stolen this way.

Nissan had to suspend its Leaf smartphone app for a time, as did GM with its OnStar app, which got some notoriety when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) used the app to hack a Chevy Impala for 60 MInutes.

In 2015, cybersecurity researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller accessed critical vehicle controls on a 2014 Jeep Cherokee via the infotainment system. This allowed the pair, without physical access to the vehicle, to remotely disable the brakes, turn the radio volume up, engage the windshield wipers, and tamper with the transmission, measure its speed and track its location. The hack prompted Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 million vehicles.

Security researchers say the ballooning array of online devices including vehicles, household appliances, and medical equipment are not adequately protected from hackers. A 2016 cyberattack was facilitated when hackers conscripted the “internet of things” into a “zombie army” of devices that flooded servers with web traffic in what’s known as a “distributed denial of service.”

The new bill would require vendors who provide internet-connected equipment to the U.S. government to ensure their products are patchable and conform to industry security standards. It would also prohibit vendors from supplying devices that have unchangeable passwords or possess known security vulnerabilities.

Republicans Cory Gardner and Steve Daines and Democrats Mark Warner and Ron Wyden are sponsoring the legislation, which was drafted with input from technology experts at the Atlantic Council and Harvard University. A Senate aide who helped write the bill said that companion legislation in the House was expected soon.

“We’re trying to take the lightest touch possible,” Warner said. He added that the legislation was intended to remedy an “obvious market failure” that has left device manufacturers with little incentive to build with security in mind.

The legislation would allow federal agencies to ask the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for permission to buy some non-compliant devices if other controls, such as network segmentation, are in place.

It would also expand legal protections for cyber researchers working in “good faith” to hack equipment to find vulnerabilities so manufacturers can patch previously unknown flaws.

Between 20 billion and 30 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, researchers estimate, with a large percentage of them insecure.

Though security for the internet of things has been a known problem for years, some manufacturers say they are not well equipped to produce cyber secure devices.

Hundreds of thousands of insecure webcams, digital records and other everyday devices were hijacked last October to support a major attack on internet infrastructure that temporarily knocked some web services offline, including Twitter, PayPal and Spotify.

The new legislation includes “reasonable security recommendations” that would be important to improve protection of federal government networks, said Ray O’Farrell, chief technology officer at cloud computing firm VMware.

Reporting by Dustin Volz. Background information from Autoblog was included.

Brand-new 2017 Honda Civic Type R wrecked on drive home from dealer

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For this week’s entry in New Car Dreams, Shattered, we point you to the tale of Greg Ellingson, a man who flew from Philadelphia to Boston to pick up his sporty new 2017 Honda Civic Type R only to finish the trip home in a tow truck with a wrecked car.

No one was injured in the crash, which took place Sunday on Interstate 95 in Connecticut.

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“Jackass not paying attention hit me full on and pushed me into another car,” he wrote in a Facebook update that, unlike his badly damaged hatchback, has caught fire. The post, which also included photos of his badly damaged grey Type R, had been shared more than 4,000 times and had attracted more than 1,800 comments as of this story’s publication.

Reached by phone Monday, Ellingson, said he was stopped in traffic on I-95 when he paused to change the radio station, was rear-ended by an older man and pushed into another vehicle. He said he didn’t see the car coming.

“He wasn’t on the breaks when he hit me, he was on the gas,” Ellingson said.

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“There was some considerable distance between me and the car in front of me,” he said, adding that he had enough time to take his hand off the radio dial and place it on the shifter before he was driven into another car in front of him.

The man who struck him did not appear to be using a cellphone at the time of the crash, he said.

Ellingson had posted an earlier update about his new purchase on Facebook, checking in at Boston Logan Airport on Sunday and announcing he was “Picking up mah new cah.” His plan was to drive it home after paying $39,000 out the door.

Ellingson works as a sales consultant for Scott Honda in West Chester, Pa. He said his dealership had sold out its inventory of Civic Type Rs, which have an MSRP of $33,900, and he spent two months trying to find a dealership that would sell him one at a reasonable price.

“There’s a lot of effort that went in to just getting the car,” Ellingson said.

The Type R bears a 2.0-liter, DOHC, direct-injected, turbocharged, i-VTEC inline-four that delivers 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Ellingson’s version had a mere 151 miles on it — the odometer was at 12 when he left the dealership — when the crash occurred.

In an update on Facebook, Ellingson was highly complimentary of both the Connecticut State Police trooper who assisted on the scene and Honda Link Assist, which asked him to pull off the road and contacted him to see if he needed assistance.

“Looking back, most importantly I’m grateful my Honda protected me,” he wrote. “I came out without even a scratch. I’ve been selling new Hondas for almost a year now and I read about their safety, I’ve seen the crash test videos but experiencing it first hand is a whole different thing. The engineers who designed this car did a fantastic job. It took all the brunt and all 4 doors still open!

Ellingson also said he purchased special insurance for the collectors car and expects to be covered in full if the vehicle is declared totaled.

Maybe Ellingson can bond with the man whose Ferrari 430 Scuderia went up in flames last week in England after crashing it just an hour after acquiring it. The driver of that considerably more expensive car reportedly suffered only cuts and bruises.

[Source: Autoblog]

Speed kills – and now we know it kills as much as drunk driving

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its findings on a study regarding the effects of speeding on car crashes, and what can be done to mitigate those effects. It found that from 2005 to 2014, speeding was a factor in 112,580 traffic fatalities. Drunk driving, the organization found, was a factor in just 368 more fatalities at a total of 112,948. The speeding-related fatalities also represents 31 percent of all traffic deaths over that period.

The NTSB also concluded that speeding greatly increases the chance of severe injuries or death, which makes sense, because higher speeds means greater forces that can harm people when the car comes to a stop, or hits a pedestrian. In addition, the agency said speeding increases the chance of a crash, but it admits that accident causes are a complex topic, and reporting is inconsistent.

It is then understandable that the NTSB would like to reduce fatalities due to speeding, and it has a number of ideas of what might and might not help. The first thing it highlights is that raising speed limits to match the 85th percentile of what speeds people actually drive, a typical practice by traffic engineers, wouldn’t be very helpful. It notes there is little to support its effectiveness, and in general it would increase speeds and therefore crashes, which would obviously be counterproductive.

But areas where the NTSB sees potential for improvement are in greater enforcement and additional safety equipment. It encourages more speed enforcement, and making sure it’s done visibly (i.e. people see people pulled over). It also recommends automated enforcement via speed cameras, and it cites the success of speed cameras in other countries. Using such cameras may require changing laws in some states to allow this type of enforcement. For safety equipment, the NTSB wants to see more car dashboards display speed limits based on navigation systems, and it suggests that including the feature into consumer safety ratings would help the feature proliferate as those ratings influence car purchases. What are your thoughts?

[Source: Autoblog]

Mid-engine Honda sports car surfaces in EU patent drawings

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Based on new patent drawings, Honda clearly isn’t done with sports cars. The design you see above was registered and published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and was first reported by AutoGuide. The drawings show a rakish, angular sports car design that is very clearly mid-engine. It could almost pass for a Lamborghini.

But the name on the design is Honda Motor Company, and aside from the name, it bares a strikingly similar appearance to a mid-engine design found in a Honda patent two years ago. In fact, the only major difference between this car and the older one (seen below) is the lack of a windshield and top. The shape of the lights and the grille, as well as the front fender vent and character lines running from it, are reminiscent of the S660 kei roadster for Japan. The large, angular intakes look more related to the Acura NSX, though.

Unlike the previous patent renderings of the car, this one has an interior, and the inclusion of it may be why the top and windshield are absent. The interior also leads us to believe that this design is for an upcoming concept. The steering wheel is a small, rectangular piece similar to what you would find in an F1 car or Indy car. The seats also look like thin buckets designed to be as sporty and light as possible. A production version would probably have a bit more cushioning and a round wheel. It does look like there is a pushbutton transmission setup in the center console like current Acuras, though.

So what does this mean? Honda is clearly still working on this design, and based on some of the more radical design choices for the interior, we’re likely looking at a concept car that will show up in the next couple of years. Whether a concept will lead to a production car is tough to say. There’s definitely room in Honda’s global sports car roster between the S660 and NSX for something in between, and Honda has reported that it’s getting pressure from dealers for sporty cars. The exterior design isn’t so extreme it couldn’t be tweaked for production, either. There have also been rumors that Honda is preparing a mid-engine hybrid sports car with the Type R’s turbocharged four-cylinder. Honda also holds a trademark for the name “ZSX,” which fits the naming scheme of the NSX and old RSX, but at least in Europe, Honda has held the trademark since 2009. We’ll just have to wait and see what Honda does.

Pondering the 2018 Dodge Demon and 2018 Honda Accord | Autoblog Podcast #521

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On this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Reese Counts and, for the first time, Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder. We discuss the new 2018 Honda Accord dropping the V6, what the Dodge Demon means for FCA’s future, and if Mercedes-Benz could sell a pickup truck in the US. Spend my money (your money, everyone’s money) will be back next week.

The rundown is below. Remember, if you have a car-related question you’d like us to answer or you want buying advice of your very own, send a message or a voice memo to podcast at autoblog dot com. (If you record audio of a question with your phone and get it to us, you could hear your very own voice on the podcast. Neat, right?) And if you have other questions or comments, please send those too.Autoblog Podcast #521

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Rundown

  • 00:00:00 – Intro + Demon
  • 00:15:48 – Accord
  • 00:28:48 – X-Class
  • 00:43:10 – Outro

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EPA beats Honda to revealing Civic Type R’s mpg: 22/28/25

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that there will be a version of the Honda Civic for 2017 powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. This, quite obviously, is the new Civic Type R, which is coming to America for the first time in its 20-year history. Honda has yet to provide detailed fuel efficiencyspecs, but that’s no problem – the EPA beat ’em to it. Expect official ratings of 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 on the highway and 25 combined.

Let’s put those figures into some context. The Volkswagen Golf R is a direct competitor to the Type R, and it’s rated at 23 city and 30 highway with the DSG or 22/30/25 with the 6-speed manual. Oddly, while both its city and highway figures are better than the Civic, the VW gets the same combined figure of 25 mpg. Moving up a notch, the Ford Focus RS, which is quite a bit more powerful at 350 hp and 350 lb-ft, gets EPA ratings of 19/25 and 22 combined. It’s worth noting that the Ford and VW are both all-wheel drive while the Honda is front-drive only.

If you need to brush up on your Type R knowledge, know that it’s powered by a DOHC, direct-injected, turbocharged, i-VTEC inline-four that makes 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Equally as noteworthy, that peak torque is available from 2,500 to 4,500 rpm, which ought to make for great fun at passing speeds on public roads. And, with its Nürburgring lap time of 7 minutes and 43.8 seconds, it’ll be quite quick at the track, too.

[Source: Autoblog]