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]

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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Topics and stories we mention

Rundown

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

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2017 Civic Type R will start at $34,775 according to Monroney photo

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The wait for the Civic Type R is almost over, and now we know how much it will cost when it arrives at dealers. A member of the CivicX.com forum found a lot full of new Type Rs near a port. According to his post, he saw someone attaching window stickers. Window stickers of course show prices, so he went over and snapped a picture of a stock one without options. As you can see below, the car will start at $34,775. The sticker also says the model shown is a Touring trim, which suggests there may be a better-equipped model above it. You can see the photo at CivicX.com along with photos of the cars waiting to be delivered.

This price makes the Type R the cheapest of the hardcore hot hatches. It’s over $2,000 less than the Ford Focus RS, and nearly $5,500 less than the Volkswagen Golf R. Whether it’s the better value is still up for debate, though, since both of the Type R’s primary competitors have two more driven wheels, and the Ford makes over 40 more horsepower than the Honda. As far as driven wheels go, though, the Civic Type R does have some bragging rights thanks to taking the Nürburgring record for front-wheel-drive cars.

Hidden gem | 2017 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback Quick Spin Review

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Autonomous driving might be the future, but at present we live in a golden age of automobiles. For proof, look not to the Bugatti Chiron or Dodge Hellcat, but everyday rides like the Honda Civic Sport. In this specific case, I’m talking about the hatchback version, a body style with a rich history of affordable performance. And while the Civic is definitely a hidden gem, it’s by no means an exception. The Hyundai Elantra Sport, Mazda 3, and Volkswagen Golf also back up the argument, but for the scope of this story I’m sticking to the Civic.

Exhibit A is some historical context. With 180 horsepower and a claimed 2,864 pounds of curb weight, the Civic Sport hatch carries 15.9 pounds for each of its horses. That’s less than the iconic second-generation (a.k.a. Mk2) Volkswagen GTI 16V, the original Nissan Sentra SE-R, and the seventh-generation Civic Si hatchback. The 2017 car is also just below the celebrated sixth-generation (1999–2000) Civic Si coupe.

In today’s dollars, that 1999 Civic would cost about $25,500 new, making the 2017 model’s base price of $22,215 a bargain. And the old Civic didn’t come with extras like stability control, side and curtain airbags, or automatic climate control. Like I said, golden age.

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To paraphrase scholarly papers, more research is needed to investigate these early findings. But a long weekend behind the wheel supports the hypothesis that the Civic Sport hatchback is at least worthy of mention in the same conversation as its historic forebears. First, there’s the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which makes 177 pound-feet of torque in manual, Sport trim. Other small-displacement turbo engines either pummel you with instant torque or feel dead until the boost comes in. Honda’s motor makes the competition feel dumb. It’s linear, smooth, and builds momentum as the tachometer rushes to the redline.

Manual transmissions are so rare that any shifter deserves a critical pass just to encourage more people to try shifting for themselves, but this is one of the good ones. The seats are adequately supportive, and the pedals line up just right for heel-toe maneuvers. In the Civic, you find yourself charging hard in weird places, like going hard on the brakes coming up to an empty intersection or letting out an audible “woot” at the sight of an empty onramp. It’s the kind of car you drive fast when nobody’s watching, purely for your own pleasure.

We’ve already covered the basics on the Civic hatch, including the innovative rear cargo cover. And I actually disagree with Jeremy – I think the hatchback looks good, and I dig the big dual central exhaust.

Now for the bad news, which is the paucity of options plaguing modern cars with manual transmissions. You can’t get the Honda Sensing active safety suite in this trim level, and the top-of-the-line Sport Touring that gets you all that only comes with a CVT. That means no lane-departure warning, active cruise, or forward-collision warning and collision-mitigation braking system if you want the stick shift. Based on the lackadaisical calibration of adaptive cruise in other Civics, this is not a total loss, but it could deter safety-conscious parents and first-time buyers from living the three-pedal lifestyle. And while the radio is blessedly simple with both a volume and tuning knob, there’s no touchscreen, which means no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto like in pricier Civics.

The Civic hatchback is one of those rare cars where the solid fundamentals make up for the lack of available modern convenience. Heck, even the old-school keyed ignition becomes part of the Civic’s recurring theme of driver engagement. The Civic Sport hatchback rewards the sentimental notion of enjoying the act of driving.

[Source: Autoblog]

Check out the Honda Civic hatchback’s shapely rear end

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The 10-generation Honda Civic is excellent in all but two areas – performance and utility. The upcoming Si and Type R will satisfy any performance qualms, while Honda will up the utility with its first US-market hatchback in over a decade. Here it is.

These images, obtained by the folks at the CivicX forums, are our best look at the hatchback’s shapely rear end. Honda kept true to the look of the Civic hatchback prototype shown in Geneva, ditching the twin center-exit exhaust pipes. We’re hoping Honda revisits the design on a future Si hatchback, but keeps a similar rear bumper design. The large, black plastic inserts that house the rear reflectors are a more aggressive look than either the Civic coupe or sedan, but aren’t flashy or overdone. Weirdly, the rear window reminds us of the Accord CrossTour’s back glass, only not ugly. There’s a healthy spoiler at the top of the window, along with a similarly sized unit connecting the two taillights. Again, this is mostly like the concept shown in Geneva.

What’s curious is the date that these images were captured. See, the Civic in the image above is boarding the vehicle carrier M/V Orion Highway. And if we Google the ship, we can see it left Southampton on July 29, stopped in Baltimore – home of an expansive vehicle processing center – on August 8. That means the new Civic Hatch is in the US already. Get excited, Civic fans.

[Source: Autoblog]

The glorious return of the Civic Type R

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This is it Honda fans, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. This is the new generation Civic Type R that will finally come to the US. Or at least it pretty much is. Technically this is still a prototype, and the production model will be shown early next year. However, based on Honda’s recent Civic “concepts,” you can rest easy knowing nothing major is going to change.

The biggest change you’ll probably see is in paint finish. The concept here has been given an interesting brushed aluminum-look vinyl wrap. If you’re really have to have it, there’s probably a decal shop nearby that could hook you up.

Moving past that, the Type R takes the standard hatchback and adds aggression rather than lightness. The front bumper is widened with extra slats, along with the fenders front and rear. It also gets a deeper chin spoiler in bare carbon fiber with a red accent stripe. Up on the hood is the intriguing addition of a scoop. We assume it’s functional, and we imagine it feeds a top-mounted intercooler like the scoops on the Subaru WRX and last Mazdaspeed3. According to rumors, the engine under the scooped hood could produce as much as 340 horsepower.

The sides of the car also get carbon fiber side skirts to go along with the front spoiler. The widened fenders accommodate fat wheels shod with 245 width tires. This leads to the back where the Type R once again receives an over-the-top rear wing, which we assume to be just as functional as the last one.

The rear of the Type R also gets one more cool feature. It has functional, triple tailpipes, just like the Ferrari 458 Italia and the F40. Honda also brought attention to the exhaust by painting the center pipe red. We don’t yet know the exact purpose of the third pipe, but we’re excited to find out.

As previously mentioned, this is just a “concept” and the production model will be shown early next year. After that, the Type R will be released in Europe first during the second half of 2017. US availability has not been announced yet.

[Source: Autoblog]

Weird Honda patent shows robot arm to charge an EV while driving

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Despite big leaps in electric car range and charging times, EVs still haven’t reached the point of being as convenient as gas-powered cars. A recently published patent from Honda seems to offer a possible, if questionable, solution to electric charging and range.

The patent shows and describes a strange system in which a car would be equipped with a deployable arm with an electrical contact on the end. When extended, the arm would ride in a grooved rail along the side of the road. This rail would be connected to the electrical grid, and would allow the car to charge as it drives along. The idea is similar to old electric trolleys and buses that connected to overhead power lines.

While novel, we’re not sure that this would be a better solution than wireless charging systems that have also been proposed. Honda’s idea would likely be easier and cheaper to build and maintain than a wireless system with electromagnetic coils embedded in the pavement. However, there are many potential issues. For one, that arm is just begging to be broken off. At some point, someone will forget it was deployed, or the retracting mechanism will break, and that driver will snap it off on a something like a street light. And while the charging rails would be easier to reach for maintenance, they might need more of it. In heavy snow, the rails may have to be cleared to be usable, and since the contacts will be rubbing against the rails all the time, people will have to inspect them to make sure they still work.

We still have to give Honda some credit though. This is an interesting idea for solving the issues of range and charging. We just think there are other technologies that would work better long term.

[Source: Autoblog]