Honda weighs safety cuts to qualify for CDN efficiency rebate
Now it's Honda's turn to have a high-ranking official spout inanities in the press.
A vice-president of Honda Canada was quoted today responding to the fuel efficiency rebate here which the Fit barely missed qualifying for, while the Toyota Yaris snuck in:
WINDSOR - Honda Canada Inc. is "seriously considering" stripping some life-saving safety equipment out of the smallest car it sells in Canada to meet new federal fuel efficiency ratings.
The Honda Fit does not qualify for a $1,000 rebate under the new rules, announced in the federal budget two weeks ago, while the Yaris, produced by arch-rival Toyota, does.
The difference can be explained by the extra air bags, side curtains, antilock brakes and other equipment the Fit has, but the Yaris does not, says Jim Miller, executive vice-president of Honda Canada.
"If we stripped all that out, it would qualify," Mr. Miller told a University of Windsor marketing class.
"But $1,000 for a human life?"
The Fit consumes 6.5 litres of fuel every 100 kilometres, which is the cutoff point for the new federal incentive to buy fuel-efficient cars. The Yaris consumes 6.3 l/km and qualifies for the money.
Most of the subcompact cars on the Canadian market, which account for more than half of all sales in this country, achieve mileage similar to the Fit.
Honda, which prides itself on the tiny Fit's five-star U.S. crash safety rating, doesn't want to trade safety for sales, Mr. Miller told about 80 students and area automotive business people.
But it might have to.
"Do we give that up? I don't think from a corporate social responsibility point of view we should," he said of the car's five-star rating.
"But obviously, to remain competitive, we're giving it serious consideration." He said Honda can't afford to walk away from as many as 20,000 units of sales in a crucial segment of the business, handing them to its most important competitor. Honda doesn't lose many sales to the Detroit Big Three, mainly to Toyota, he said.
"It's going to have an impact" on Honda's sales, he said of the federal incentives, although it is too early to tell how much.
Mr. Miller said the federal government's new green levies, or "feebates" as some have called its new taxes and rebates, may be too arbitrary to have the desired environmental effects on the marketplace.
Toyota, whose customers some analysts say stand to pick up the bulk of rebates from the new federal program, is the only automaker that has wholeheartedly endorsed the budget announcement.
Stephen Beatty, managing director of Toyota Canada Inc., told the same University of Windsor class on Monday that the company was delighted with the federal budget provisions.
If Honda Canada were "seriously considering" offering less safety equipment in a special Fit model that would make it eligible for the efficiency rebate, it would be spinning it positively in marketing-speak. It would NOT be sending an executive v.p. out to publicly question the "value of a human life" in the mass media.
This "Fits" your reduced safety argument. What's your take?
I don't think there is a safety compromise argument that has legs here. If they barely missed the qualification, they can tweak the drivetrain to "Fit" the Canadian specs and offer it as the "Rebate Fit".
Oh give me a break! As if stripping life saving equipment is the only way to increase a car's EPA performance .
No, but it is the least expensive!!! An no extra testing of the expensive bits for recertification like a different engine would require.
This probably is a publicity stunt as well. Cheap advertisement for the cars safety and fuel mileage in a way alot of people will remember, both for the current car and the future "striped down" model.
This might be a smart move, rather than make statements of your companies inability to meet regulations (can you imagine how the entire engineering/research/tech staff are feeling about such a stupid statement?) or make cost estimates with no basis to scare people.