What is Honda SA doing to ensure your unhappy/disillusioned owners return to purchase another Honda? It seems the Accord's image, in particular, has been battered by the drop in pricing by R20 000. What, if anything, is being done to protect the resale value of pre-facelift models? And how does this affect the other models in your line-up?
As background to the Accord pricing scenario, we launched the vehicle for the first time on the market in January 2003.
At the time the Rand was at an all-time low against major overseas currencies and we were forced to price the vehicle according to the exchange rates at the time.
Over the next couple of years, the Rand regained strength and we were able to either keep the gains as profit or to pass on the saving by reducing the price, which we did (not too many other manufacturers followed suit).
On our other products, we added a maintenance plan at no extra cost. I guess this is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Hold prices and take criticism for ripping people off, or reduce prices and make previous purchasers unhappy?
To what extent do you dictate parts pricing? From accounts, the mark ups range from 4 to 14 times the cost price? Why don't you look at the pricing structures in place to make these vehicles cheaper to maintain? And what is Honda's policy on spares availability for older models?
We don't dictate pricing on parts. It's against the law! We do however recommend prices to our dealers, but they are free to determine their own mark-ups at the end of the day.
We have also been studying our pricing in SA and reducing our prices to our dealers across the board recently. Some pricing discrepancies are possible from dealers having differently aged stock, purchased from us at different prices. This will probably rectify itself soon.
We also offer service plans on our entire range of automobiles so that customers have piece of mind about future costs when purchasing vehicles. Other than that, our vehicles very rarely have failures and warranty issues are extremely low.
Lastly, we fully support all the Honda products sold in this country, including those that were previously sold through Mercedes Benz SA.
A common thread is that while the products are generally good, the ownership experience is being compromised by shoddy dealer service. What is Honda SA doing to restore its owners' trust in the service centres? Where do you think you rate in the servicing hierarchy in South Africa?
Firstly, the JD Power and Associated customer satisfaction survey of 2006 put us in first position in their CSI study. This is an empirical survey covering 11500 respondents. Having said that, we aim for 100% satisfaction - even one unhappy customer is too much.
We have taken note of your readers? comments and will definitely be doing our best to ensure that when you do this exercise again next year there are no negative comments. Unhappy customers equal unhappy Honda employees.
Honda has won acclaim for its high revving VTEC engines, but what technology is the company exploring to make its engines more usable in the lower ranges? Has Honda considered ever considered using forced induction along with these high-revving engines? Also, are there any chances of us getting performance derivatives equipped with SH-AWD?
The older versions of VTEC were definitely designed to give maximum power at higher engine revolutions, but the newer, more intelligent versions have been designed to offer a usable spread of power combined with excellent fuel economy and low emissions.
A good example would be the Jazz 1.5 VTEC which balances fuel economy with adequate tractability. We ask that your readers take our products for a test drive and decide for themselves if we have managed to improve in this respect. It's a Honda policy to try and avoid forced induction wherever possible due to certain characteristics of forced induction which we are not crazy about.
This is not a technical forum, so we won't get into it here, but our engineers do enjoy a challenge! Most people are referring to the Civic Type R in this regard, which has been designed for driving pleasure rather than raw acceleration. Once again, a test drive will prove the point.
The SH-AWD system will be added to the high end products in Honda's range, but the cost of the system will prohibit it from being placed in our mid-range products.
Do you have any plans to expand the line-up by offering more affordable and/or powerful engine derivatives? When will Honda be releasing its hybrid vehicles in South Africa? re there any plans to introduce more diesel derivatives, including a diesel Jazz, Civic or FRV? And how about introducing an automatic CRV?
We are planning on expanding our range in the future and our request to our parent company regarding more powerful engines will be baring fruit soon. We are busy with several studies, which haven't been finalised yet, but we can confirm that we will be putting our 2.2 i-CTDI diesel engine in other products as well as a strong possibility to introduce a hybrid vehicle. We even hope to have our FCX hydrogen cell vehicle available here one day. An automatic gearbox is being developed for our diesel engine and we will launch it as soon as it is available to us.
When will a more extensive list of options, like xenon lights and sunroofs, be made available across the South African range? And why is the range of available colours so limited (no white or yellow for the Civic Type R, for example)? And why don't you offer more in the way of aftermarket, or even Honda-endorsed accessories? Are local buyers, in your opinion, that conservative?
We take note of your readers' comments about lack of choice in options and accessories and will be addressing this issue, with our future products being launched with a range of accessories available. We always do try to offer as much standard spec as possible on our vehicles while still trying to keep the price in the right ballpark. An example is the Accord Executive, which is packed with standard luxury items, such as a sunroof, which are options on most of its competitors in its segment. Of course we don't think our local buyers are conservative!
Given the limited volume of Civic Type R available to us (there is a huge shortfall worldwide due to massive demand for the product in Europe), we were forced to restrict availability to the two most popular colours in this segment. We have however noted the demand for more colour options and have requested our plant to make others available in future.
Why doesn't Honda bring in a CBR400? The CBR125, to some, is too small, and the CBR600 too pricey, so why not offer something in between? Also, is anything being planned to counter the grey imports entering the market?
First comment noted and it's a good point. We are looking seriously at sourcing a product to fill this gap in our line-up.
Nothing we can legally do about grey imports in this country unfortunately. We do however try to inform customers that by paying a little bit extra, they are getting the full support of Honda SA.
Grey importers do not have the cost of holding parts supplies, adequate product stocking, service back-up, warranty coverage, marketing, dealer networks, staff training etc. etc. They just sell products on the back of our good reputation and don?t put in the investment that we have.
Other than that, we have noticed that there are several other questions on the website and have taken note of the comments. If you feel that they haven?t been answered adequately here, please feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We always welcome feedback from the public to continually improve our service.
Wheels24 apologises for the delay in publishing Honda SA's response.