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Auto blogThu, 19 Sep 2013 09:58:00 EST
Honda is in hot water due to an airbag glitch that is causing it to recall 405,400 vehicles. According to the campaign, the supplemental restraints might fire for no apparent reason. 342,000 of the affected vehicles are 2003 and 2004 Odyssey minivans, which gels with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation we reported on in June.
Joining the Odyssey in the recall is the Acura MDX, with 63,400 units covered from the 2003 model year. Unlike the van, though, the MDX's recall covers Japan and Australia, in addition to the US and Canada. Both vehicles are suffering from an airbag control unit that is prone to malfunction when exposed to electrical noise, a condition that can cause the airbags to deploy without warning. Although no crashes have been reported in such scenarios, there have been some injuries typical of airbag deployment - abrasions and such.
Honda will be mailing recall notices to owners near the end of October, asking them to bring their vehicles into the dealership for installation of an electrical noise filter. The repair will take about an hour and be free of charge. Scroll down for the official announcement from Honda.
Do not poke Consumer Reports with the hybrid fuel economy stick. That seems to be the lesson illustrated here yet again. The Honda Accord Hybrid is the latest to arouse the ratings bear, returning "just" 40 combined mpg in CR testing. Even so, that makes it "a class leader for fuel economy among midsized sedans," besting even the Civic Hybrid in CR testing, but that's still a lucky roll of the dice short of its EPA rating of 47 mpg. Remember, it was back in December 2012 that CR knocked the Ford Fusion and C-Max hybrid models for the exact same failing: certified with an EPA-rated 47 mpg but delivering "just" 40 mpg.
Beyond that, while the Accord Hybrid earned a lower overall score than the traditional gasoline Accord because of its ride, handling and refinement issues, it gets unqualified applause from the institute for its "very impressive hybrid system."
It will be interesting to see if CR's findings will negatively impact the model's sales, which to this point have been impressive enough that demand is outstripping supply. In the meantime, you can check out CR's brief video review of the Accord Hybrid below, and check out the magazine's press release chiding its mpg rating.
Honda and Acura North America have announced a major restructuring of operations in hopes of turning around Acura's flagging business. For 2013, sales for Acura's sedans dropped 10.4 percent, while its CUV sales grew by 21 percent. The newly formed Acura Business Planning Office will attempt to right the ship.
As part of the restructuring, Acura is promoting Erik Berkman from President of Honda R&D Americas to lead a new division called the Acura Business Planning Office. Berkman has been with Honda since 1982 and led development of the 2006 Accord. He was also the first US engineer to head North American research and development and has been head of Honda Performance Development since 2008. "Erik's appointment to the new Acura Business Planning Office is a clear indication of the high priority we place on Acura," said Honda spokesperson Jeffrey Smith to Automotive News.
American Honda Motor President and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura is also going to be working to improve the business. He has been elected chairman of American Honda's board, and has simultaneously taken the new position of Corporate Brand Officer to improve the management of the company's brands.