Exclusive: Honda temporary cutting some production at all U.S., Canada plants

WASHINGTON – Honda Motor Co said late Tuesday it will temporarily suspend some production next week at all U.S. and Canadian plants citing a number of supply chain issues.

A spokesman for the Japanese automaker said it would halt production for the entire March 22 week at a majority of U.S. and Canadian plants citing “the impact from COVID-19, congestion at various ports, the microchip shortage and severe winter weather over the past several weeks.”

The company declined to specify the volume of vehicles impacted but said “purchasing and production teams are working to limit the impact of this situation.”

Honda said “the timing and length of production adjustments could change” and added when production is suspended Honda workers “will continue to have the opportunity to work at the impacted plants.”

Honda to sell limited batch of level 3 self-driving cars

Honda Motor Co Ltd on Thursday said it will sell a limited batch of its flagship Legend sedan equipped with level 3 autonomous driving technology that enables vehicles to navigate congested highways.

When the level 3 “Traffic Jam Pilot” is activated, a driver can watch movies or use the navigation on the screen, helping to mitigate fatigue and stress when driving in a traffic jam, Honda said in a statement.

The Japanese automaker’s plan to sell 100 of the vehicles with the advanced technology would represent a significant step towards its goal of being the first company to mass produce a car with level 3 technology.

The Legend’s “Traffic Jam Pilot” system can control acceleration, braking and steering under certain conditions.

It can also alert the driver to respond when handing over the control, such as vibration on the driver’s seatbelt, Honda said. And if the driver continues to be unresponsive, the system will assist with an emergency stop by decelerating and stopping the vehicle while alerting surrounding cars with hazard lights and the horn, it added.

The announcement comes after the Japanese government awarded a safety certification to Honda’s “Traffic Jam Pilot” in November.

Global automakers and tech companies, including Google parent Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Tesla Inc, have been investing heavily in autonomous driving.

Yet even as the technology advances, regulations on autonomous driving differ from country to country. Audi unveiled an A8 sedan with level 3 technology in 2017 but regulatory hurdles have prevented it from being widely introduced.

The limited edition Legend will be sold from Friday in Japan at a retail price of 11 million yen ($103,000), Honda said.

The automaker has no plans to increase production or sales of a level 3-equipped Legend for now, its operating officer told reporters on Thursday.

($1 = 107.0500 yen)

Honda to appoint R&D chief Toshihiro Mibe as new CEO – sources

(Reuters) – Honda Motor Co will name Toshihiro Mibe, head of the Japanese automaker’s research and development arm, as its new chief executive officer, two sources told Reuters.

Japan’s second-biggest automaker will announce the decision after a board meeting as early as Friday, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the information is not public. He will be confirmed as president and representative director at an annual shareholders’ meeting in June, they said.

Mibe, who is already a director at Honda, would replace Takahiro Hachigo, who has held the CEO post for six years. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Seiji Kuraishi will remain in his post to support Mibe, the sources said.

It was not immediately clear whether Hachigo would retain a position at Honda.

“No decisions have been made, and there is nothing we can say,” a Honda spokesman said in response to Reuters’ query about the personnel move.

Honda beats estimates to post 67% gain in third-quarter operating profit

Reuters – Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co on Tuesday posted a better-than-expected 67% jump in third-quarter operating profit to 277.7 billion yen ($2.65 billion) as car demand gained momentum in the latter half of 2020.

The result for the three months to Dec. 31 was better than an estimated average of 176.72 billion yen profit from eight analysts surveyed by Refinitiv SmartEstimate, and beat the 166.6 billion yen profit a year ago.

Honda revised its full-year forecast for a record operating profit to 520 billion yen, up from the 420 billion yen profit it forecast three months ago.

That projection is higher than an average 463.6 billion yen profit forecast based on predictions from 21 analysts, Refinitiv data shows.