Big Sedans No Big Deal, Honda Says

Honda
Full-size sedans got some attention at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show, with Hyundai redoubling its efforts on the slow-selling Azera. This comes seven months after Ford unveiled a refreshed 2013 Taurus and less than a year after the redesigned Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger hit dealerships.

The full-size pie has its takers — but Honda wants no slice, said John Mendel (pictured below), the automaker's U.S. chief.

We spoke with Mendel, American Honda's executive vice president, during a media roundtable at the recent auto show. The full-size sedan segment "doesn't seem to be the trend in the market," he said, especially "when you think about fuel economy and challenges that the industry will have" in meeting the federal government's 2025 corporate average fuel economy standards. The Obama administration's proposal, which calls for a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg, will work out to around 39 mpg in real-world combined gas mileage, according to the EPA. Today's average is 22 mpg.

JohnMendel
Full-size sedans merely keep pace with the current tide. Six-cylinder versions of the 300, Charger, Avalon and redesigned Azera get 23 mpg. The 2013 Ford Taurus will get a turbo four-cylinder with better combined city/highway mileage than the current V-6 car's 22 mpg, but final numbers are pending.

CAFE aside, full-sizers are still a flagging segment. Take out the Azera — whose redesign doesn't arrive until February — and combined year-to-date sales for the remaining four models fell 14.2% through October despite all of them being relatively new.

It's a moot point: Honda doesn't have the underpinnings to build a large car, Mendel said. The carmaker's roomiest sedan, the Accord, is technically full size by EPA standards. That's that sort of packaging Honda aims to pursue.

"We're kind of doing a large car kind of derivative," Mendel said. "What you'll continue to see us do is put more and more package space in the existing same size car. ... It's a trend that's been going on in Europe for the last 15 years."

Comments 

Todo

This is hilarious coming from the purveyors of the pork-twins Accord and Crosstour.

Holee-Driver

@Todo. The accord is not much more gordy than the malibu and the legacy is a whopper as well.
On another note, I think this is good news. Honda needs to shape up its current lineup before adding more.

Rick

It's a mistake to overlook the Big Sedan segment. With improved engine technology a full size will have competitive gas mileage in 14 years (by 2025). The small car trend will not last long. Americans want and need bigger vehicles. We don't have a society of short people. I'm tall and I need good head and leg room in a vehicle I purchase.

Allistar

I have to agree with rick. We as americans may be spoiled compared to other countries but our standard of living per GDP is highest. We can demand bigger,heavier, faster,strongers because thats us. We dont pay $8 a gallon for gas like in Europe so its not as imperative to increase fuel economy. Yes, its important, but everyone seems to forget that gas is a nonrenewable energy sourece. It will run out whether we conserve it or not.

JJ

Allistar,

The issue is that if we slow our consumption of fuel we can make it last longer.. Perhaps you will be dead by then, so why would you care? Well I guess that its just human to try and preserve the world for the next generation. If we make it last longer that means that the environment has a longer period in which to filter out the contaminates that we pump out. If we could slow our rate of CO2 emissions it would pay off in dividends because we would have fuel for more years (buys us time to develop alternatives) and we could possibly begin to reverse the cycle of CO2 increases. We can at least slow it to a manageable pace.

I do believe that the technology will develop to have a relatively quick large sedan with that kind of MPG. But I do not believe that people like Allistar have a justifiable, respectful or responsible viewpoint. I feel that it is inappropriate to justify your actions by simply being uninformed as to the state of emissions and their correlation, cause and effect of environmental occurrences.

Allistar

JJ,
i respect your thoughts but wish to pardon your opinion to my lack of information.
There is a relevant study that shows its less expensive in the long run to maintain the guz guzzler rather than purchase a newer car wit hadvanced MPG.
This site indicates that it takes on average, 5-7 years to recoup the extra cost of a hybrid at the pump. Natually inspired cars such as the focus with the fuel economy paqckage that includes aerodynamic enhancements an low-resistance rolling tires can achieve similar MPGs city/hwy than a hybrid.

Also, Hydrogen is the only promising alternative aside from fossil fuels. Even it has its limitations as far as capacity, location, and how one could attain the unstable gas. Electric/Hybrid/Combination only delays the inevitable.
Look at the economics, our gasoline rates are far less than what Europe has to pay. Secondly, few people want to invest in a product that takes years to get back. Which is th point your piece indicates. Why not just pay more at the gas pump and save?
This is thre problem with our economy and why our national debt creeps higher and higher. Although our GDP per person is highest in the world, our demands for instant gratification will inevitabely doom us. Why do you think our credit dropped from AAA+?

Your right i don't have to worry about it in this generation. I also thought about, then came to a conclusion. An ill-advised decision is as bad as ignorance. So i question you, why try to strain out the little thats left and continally cost our consumer much more to attain a product that will be gone whether vast undertakings are preserved are not.

The basic laws of economics state that buyers will go after the lowest price. However, due to increasing safety standards, fuel emissions, and new and lighter sheetmetal ,car prices will continue to go up.

Look at the cafe standards that will be in place by 2025. How much do you think it will cost? will it be worth it? Does every customer want to pay for the next person's green choices. This goes back to taxes and supporting unnecessary things. Improvements to society always come through tax dollars because nobody will voluntarily pay for it, which is the definition of a free rider.

So if you read this, please respond in a more educated role versus a moralistic tone, which plays no part in economics.

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