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Honda's Fukui Confirms V-8, Gives Vocal Support to U.S. Fed Loans

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2009 Acura RL

2009 Acura RL

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Long the automaker that has stuck resolutely to its frugal fours and sixes, Honda surprised some today by announcing the impending launch of a V-8 according to Automotive News. The upcoming engine, which CEO Takeo Fukui claimed is sorely needed under the hood of its flagship Acura RL sedan, is partially in response to the brand's 15.3 percent sales decline through September. He did not comment as to whether the engine would make its way into other vehicles, but the Odyssey minivan and Pilot SUV seem like possible targets.

Fukui admitted that the RL's current 3.7-liter V-6's power is insufficient, saying that Acura cannot compete with other premium brands that offer torque-rich V-8s (BMW 550i, Cadillac STS, Lexus GS460, Mercedes-Benz E550) that American luxury drivers prefer. Interestingly, he said this proposed V-8 will "be completely different from conventional, past-generation ones and have excellent fuel efficiency" (qtd. in Automotive News). This leads us to wonder what fuel-saving measures will be employed on this engine; turbocharging, direct injection, cylinder de-activation, diesel fuel (doubtful), or perhaps a combination of the above? Or perhaps some type of mild hybrid, re-generative braking, or engine stop/start technology that automakers like BMW are gradually adopting as even luxury drivers cry for greater efficiency.

Fukui also commented that he is in favor of recent U.S. Federal Government decision to offer low-interest loans to struggling U.S. automakers. While claiming that he does not intend to take advantage of the loans (technically Honda could receive a portion of the loans, as it produces vehicles in the United States), Fukui fears a backlash against foreign automakers like Honda if any of the Big Three fail. Additionally, the low-interest loan guarantees indirectly help companies like Honda by lending support to U.S. parts suppliers that play a role in the manufacture of its cars.

Is Honda wise to bow to market forces and give power to the people in the midst of a market downturn and a switch to more economical vehicles? Can the company maintain its smart, frugal image epitomized by vehicles like its popular Fit while simultaneously going to market with eight cylinders? How would you proceed in Fukui's situation?--Colin Mathews
 
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Comments (5)
  1. This will plug a hole in Honda's ship that has been gaping open and losing them customers forever. The Ridgeline in particular has been in dire need of a V8 ever since being brought to market. I worked at Honda when it came out. Serious truck buyers wouldn't even sit in when they found out about no V8. I have faith that Honda can make a relatively fuel efficient V8 that still has the low-end torque that they've always lacked.
     
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  2. Too bad the NSX is gone, that V8 could've been the engine that chassis was crying for.
     
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  3. Unless and until the Ridgeline is based on a RWD platform, I'd be surprised if Honda were to stuff a V8 in there. It's built on the FWD/AWD architecture of the Pilot and Odyssey, and the only V8 FWD/AWD vehicles I can think of are the Volvo XC90 V8 and the Taurus SHO (both limited production).
    The US pickup market has largely been relieved of its "lifestyle buyers," the people who don't need a pickup but bought one rather than the SUV or minivan that would have made more sense. This means that the remaining trucks will be bought by men (predominantly) who NEED them for work.
    That audience is far more loyal to Ford, Chevy, and Dodge trucks (in that order) than to Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. Nissan has already given up on pickups, and I wouldn't be surprised if Honda follows suit, since IIRC, the Ridgeline never achieved even the modest sales goals set for it.
     
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  4. Rumors are circulating that it will find its way into the next NSX ... which would help if they want it to sell. A v10 is nice but probably will not return huge #s in today's market.
     
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  5. As a satisfied Honda owner for almost 20 years, I believe the V8 is utterly unnecessary at this stage, and given these oil prices. If I wanted brute performance, I'd get a BMW v8, Not a Honda one, and as a matter of fact I DID, in oct 05 I got a "Magnificent 7" `1998 Bond-mobile 740iL with an excellent 4.4 lt v8 for peanuts, that I still drive today, after donating the 1990 accord to charity and keeping the low-mile civic hatch 92 for the summer home.
    What Honda and esp. ACURA DESPERATELY NEEDS is to FIRE these IDIOTS that design these pathetic exterior stylings of all recent acuras and most Hondas and pay some serious Italian design studio to design their exteriors!
     
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