The “Honda” That Isn’t

29
1922
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Once upon a time, General Motors had divisions such as Pontiac and Oldsmobile that sold Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles. When they began trying to sell repackaged Chevys, people became less interested in buying them. And then there were no more Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles.

Will the same happen to Honda?

For the first time in the company’s history, it will be trying to sell a repackaged General Motors product. Specifically, the electric version of Chevy’s Blazer. It will be repackaged and sold under the Honda badge as the Prologue.

But it’s a “Honda” in the same way that Rachel Levine is America’s first “female” admiral.

It’s understandable why Honda is trying to re-sell the Chevy Blazer EV. So as to not waste Honda’s resources on an EV.

Let Chevy (GM) absorb the cost of manufacturing this device for which there is no market. Honda gets the credit – with the government. Having an EV in Honda’s lineup helps improve Honda’s compliance profile with such rigmarole as the federal government’s mandatory MPG minimums (CAFE), which will shortly require each automaker’s combined fleet to average nearly 50 MPG. 

A device like the Prologue-Blazer is credited by the government with delivering “100 MPGe”  – even though it doesn’t travel anywhere near as far as that on a gallon-equivalent of electricity. Nonetheless, having a device that is credited with delivering “100 MPGe” in its lineup  improves Honda’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy numbers, which helps Honda avoid the fines applied by the government for falling short of the CAFE MPG mandatory minimum. This helps Honda sell more Hondas that do sell, such as the Pilot and Ridgeline.

Having the Prologue in the portfolio also helps Honda with its “zero emissions” compliance profile. In air-fingers quotation marks because, like the “MPGe” thing, it’s a fraud – perpetrated by the government. To say battery powered devices don’t cause emissions because they don’t emit them is like saying a person who craps his pants hasn’t used the bathroom.

It’s a game, in other words.

See? We are selling – well, we’re trying to sell – battery powered devices, too!

It keeps the government off Honda’s back, somewhat.

But is also does something else that Honda might regret.

It’s not just that the Prologue isn’t a Honda anymore than Admiral Levine is a she – although that’s bad enough, because lies are never good.

Worse is that Honda risks suffering the reputational loss that will attend re-selling GM’s products. Honda does not have any meaningful control over the quality of GM-designed and GM-made vehicles. When something goes wrong with this Chevy, Honda will get the blame for it. (And much has already gone wrong with the Blazer device; see here for more about that.) People will associate Chevy’s problems with Honda’s brand and that’s not good – for Honda.

The other problem is the price of this device, which is just shy of $50,000 to start. That makes the “Honda” Prologue the most expensive offering in Honda’s lineup as well as an ominous . . . prologue about Honda’s future.

Honda built its brand on affordability, quality and ingenuity. Its cars were inexpensive – but not cheap. Honda made engines so clean they didn’t need catalytic converters to clean up their exhaust (e.g., the CVCC Civics of the mid-70s). So efficient they could go 50-plus miles on a gallon of gas (e.g., the CRX HF of the ’80s) without needing hybrid technology or even fuel injection to do it.

The company earned the business of buyers who knew that an Accord with a V6 would last 20 years and 250,000 miles – and still be worth something by then, too.

How does a pushing $50k device made by some other company fit in with this?

Does Honda really think its customers will be interested in this? Or able to afford this?

Another question that comes up when the discussion turns to this is – why bother with this?

Buyers lost interest in Pontiac and Oldsmobile when they were reduced to badges used to re-sell repackaged Chevys. Why bother? Why not just buy the Chevy – and at least have a Chevy? And who wants to pay more for a Chevy sold under a different badge? That’s why you can’t buy a new Pontiac or Oldsmobile anymore.

Turning vehicles into devices makes this worse in that they are all the same, irrespective of the badge. What is the difference-  in any meaningful sense -between a device sold by Tesla and the devices being sold by Chevy (and re-sold by Honda)? They are all battery powered devices. What meaningful differences are there, one lithium-ion (or Ultium, GM’s brand of battery) battery vs. another?

What meaningful difference is there between electric motors?

What you’re left with is different shaped and colored devices that are also mostly the same shape (e.g., a crossover-shaped thing) and mostly also the same color (e.g., silver or white or black, just like the appliances they are).

If that’s what the Prologue portends, it’s not looking good for Honda. It’s not looking good for probably three out of four existing brands of vehicles because why bother with so many different brands when they’re all re-selling the same things?

. . .

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29 COMMENTS

  1. How many EV’s will Honda sell in New York?

    ….probably very few anywhere….but way less in New York….New York is not into EV’s….

    out of about 2 million cars in New York….about 2000 are EV’s….people do not want them there….

    Why?….maybe they are too expensive, the rent is so high there is no money left for EV’s….

    Most people live in apartments/condos…there is nowhere to charge them overnight, you have to own a house to have somewhere to charge it.

    New York is not installing charging stations…almost none….if it is going to be split into 15 min city/prison/zones…with zero cars, why would they?

    maybe people don’t want to park it in the underground parking….under their condo….a huge fire risk….

    the poor people there don’t own cars, they use Uber…it is cheaper….the people there with money would rather buy something more fun like a Porsche, McLaren, Ferrari, Bentley, Corvette, Mercedes AMG, etc…..that they can park under their condo….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXQT7vPq9iY

  2. We’re also getting one of these at Acura as the ‘ZDX’. I’m sure we’ll sell about five of them.

    The craziest part is the laundry list of things that Acura mandated our dealership comply with, just to be able to service these cars. That the store had to pay for. Over six figures worth. Mostly dealing with battery removal and replacement. (They do not have individually removable cells, it’s all or nothing)

    -A new 10k lb capacity Rotary hoist
    -A forklift (to move the battery packs around)
    -A dedicated flat stall
    -Numerous new EV chargers
    -Multiple hydraulic lift tables
    -A whole new tool chest full of ‘special tools’
    -Etc etc

    • Hi Jake,

      Thanks for reminding me about the “ZDX.” And in re the dealerships having to buy the equipment, etc., you mention: It reminds me of the dilemma faced by my buddy who owns his own independent repair shop. He is being priced out of the market, piecemeal, via not being able to afford/justify the expense of specialized tools needed to (occasionally) service certain brands of vehicles. He needs “x” to do the work but there’s no way he’ll recover what it costs to get “x” – so he just stops working on those vehicles. Eventually, he’ll be out of work altogether, at least as regards new/late model vehicles.

      I think essentially the same will happen to dealers that “invest” in all the EV infrastructure.

  3. Chances are, if Honda gets to sell the eBlazer as their own, they also have a say in the software that runs on their version of the device, so the stupid software glitches that currently plague the eBlazer might not be a problem for Honda. (Compared to developing and manufacturing hardware, developing computer code is relatively low cost and Honda has, or at least had, some of the best programmers in the auto industry.) It’s the hardware failures that will likely bite Honda in the arse.

  4. If automobile companies continue to kowtow to any illegitimate
    directive coming down the pike, it’s difficult to have
    any sympathy for their possible negative outcome.
    For whom are they building these vehicles –
    certainly not for the paying customers.

    And no, I don’t want to give fascism a chance.

  5. Meanwhile, Honda has just reported record profits, as did Toyota, so the Japanese auto industry is doing very well.

    From the links below, using Google Translate:

    “It has been revealed that Honda’s consolidated operating profit (International Financial Reporting Standards) for the April-December period of 2023 was 1 trillion yen, about 40% more than the same period last year. This is the first new record high in 16 years since the same period in 2007. A recovery in automobile production as the supply chain normalized, a weaker yen, and price increases boosted profits. The automobile business, which has been in a slump for a long time as more and more factories were closed, is clearly showing signs of recovery.”
    https://www.nikkei.com/nkd/company/article/?DisplayType=1&ng=DGKKZO78254530V00C24A2MM8000&scode=7267&ba=1

    “Toyota Motor Corporation announced on the 6th that its consolidated net income forecast (according to International Financial Reporting Standards) for the fiscal year ending March 2024 is likely to increase 84% from the previous fiscal year to 4.5 trillion yen. This is an upward revision of 550 billion yen from the previous forecast. If Toyota’s net profit reaches the 4 trillion yen level, it would be the first time for the company and it would be the highest profit in two years. Contributing factors include price increases due to improvements in vehicle functionality, high-profit vehicle models such as hybrid vehicles (HV), increased production volume, and a weaker yen.”
    https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXZQOFD030020T00C24A2000000/

    • Hi Yuri,

      Yes, but this does not factor in the $50k device Honda is about to try to sell. I doubt it will sell – not so much because it’s a device but because it’s a $50k device. There are only so many people who can afford to buy one. Most of them buy BMWs, Benzes and so so on. Not Hondas.

      The problem – for Honda and other brands that are not luxury brands is that most buyers cannot afford a luxury priced vehicle (or device).

      • Hi Eric,
        I totally agree with you. My point was that despite all this, the insanity continues, in the auto industry and elsewhere, too. Just look at banking for example. How long can this house of cards stand, with these huge piles of debt that cannot ever be repaid? How many times has it been pointed out that it will collapse, and yet it doesn’t. With the auto industry, who are Toyota and Honda selling to, posting such profits? Maybe they are channel stuffing, and the numbers are fake. Who knows. But we are living in a lunatic asylum, that’s for sure.

        • Agreed, Yuri –

          I think we live in a kind of Potemkin Village of false prosperity, by which I mean looks are deceiving. In any given supermarket parking lot, how many of the cars there are “owned” by people who owe huge sums? Same with houses. Take any given neighborhood; probably 90 percent of them are “owned” by people who will owe for the next 20-30 years. My hypothesis is that if people were obliged to pay for what they have, probably two-thirds of the general public would have nothing more than their personal possessions. In other words, most people are broke. It just doesn’t look like it.

  6. EV’s were supposed to last way longer then ice cars and have zero maintenance and repair, because there was just an electric motor, which lasts forever….lol….

    It turns out EV’s and their plug in hybrid brothers, are the most unreliable cars ever made, with far more maintenance and repair….

    The rotor shaft end seal in the Tesla electric motor, starts leaking at about 40,000 to 50,000 miles, the motor is cooled by the car’s coolant system which also cools the huge 1000 lb battery…this means coolant gets inside the electric motor and destroys the motor….

    Some new replacement motors start leaking again…. at 2,000 miles, the cost to rebuild one electric motor is $5,000 to $6,000, which is the same as a new motor.

    The later motors were worse….they had a single seal instead of a triple bearing seal….

    Another problem area….the high current in the motor is resulting in the motor bearings being destroyed……

    Some electric cars have 3 or 4 motors….in a plug in hybrid you get to rebuild the electric motor at 40,000 miles?….lol

    This is in addition to in an EV……of a $22,000 to $40,000 battery to replace at 120,000 miles or less….and the replacement battery only has a 1 year warranty….. (Tesla)….

    In an ice car if coolant gets in the engine…as in a head gasket leak, it doesn’t destroy the engine…… in an older analog 4 cylinder car a head gasket repair might cost $1200….the ice car only has one engine, so there isn’t a possible 3 or 4 engines to repair/replace….

    Another example of engines/motors being ruined by the cooling system….go back to the air cooled engines…lol….The beetle was the best car….used air cooled Porsches cost a small fortune now…..because they are very good cars……

    Want to buy a used EV with 40,000 to 50,000 miles on it?….lol

    Buying an EV might be the most expensive mistake you ever made…..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6beCVz43ZJE

  7. Back in 1993, when Honda entered the blossoming SUV market, they did the same thing. From 1993-2002, the “Honda Passport” was, in fact, a badge-engineered Isuzu Rodeo, manufactured by Subaru Isuzu Automotive in Lafayette, Indiana.
    Seems like that worked out just fine.

  8. Honda of late is not what it used to be. It used to be Honda and Toyota. Now it’s just Toyota. Word on the street is that the eBlazer is the worst pile of crap out there among EVs, and that NO ONE is buying them, so yeah, good luck Honda, letting these POSs take up s;pace on your dealer lots.

    Between EVs that nobody wants and $100K pick-ups that few want or can afford, car dealers today would probably do better to convert their lots into storage or parking lots. It’s getting so you can’t tell the difference lately, anyway.

  9. A wise move by Honda. To play the regulatory game (war?) without investing in development of their own car. Just dipping their toe in the water. To see if EVs are as catastrophic as indicated.

  10. Honda has been leaving something to be desired of late.
    Odyssey transmissions have been sketchy for years.
    Oil dilution for that tiny 1.5L turbo sump-pump that they now have in the Accords and CRVs.
    New HRV rear glass exploding because of a design flaw with the defrosters.

    These are not the success stories of the Hondas from the 70s to the early oughts.
    At this point, I’d be more concerned about Honda’s epilogue.

  11. They’ve been making the world’s ugliest line of cars for 30+ years and still people bought them, and their competitors threw in the towel and copied the ugliest designs.
    Why not EVs?

  12. Could Honda be “crazy like a fox”, and selling the rebadged Chevy’s, to meet the mandatory EV cars-sales requirement imposed by President Houseplant, while not having to invest any capital in designing or producing these white elephants? That would be my guess. Pretty sly move, I might add. That’s what I would do…

  13. ‘Worse is that Honda risks suffering the reputational loss that will attend re-selling GM’s products.’ — eric

    Indeed. Why buy a Japanese-badged vehicle, if you’re not getting Japanese designed-in quality?

    Honda is the ONLY Japanese member of the US EeeVee-pushers club, the Alliance for Transportation Electrification — along with (guess who?) GM. See for yourself:

    https://evtransportationalliance.org/about-us/members/

    Time grows short, and I have no earthly use for virtue-signaling corporate saboteurs plotting to take away our engines and replace them with soulless appliances. The only sexy appliance is a front-loading dryer with a tart ‘stuck’ in it, her bubble butt protruding out the door.

    Honda has sold us out. Time to move on, and shun pussified Honda/GM like rat poison. Birds of a feather croak together.

    Strange days have found us
    Strange days have tracked us down
    They’re going to destroy our casual joys
    We shall go on playing or find a new town

    — The Doors, Strange Days

  14. Ready: “Hey ChatGPT, are there any members of the Honda family still working at Honda corporation?:

    ChatGPT: “Based on the information available from Honda’s official sources, there doesn’t appear to be any direct mention of members of the Honda family currently holding positions or working at Honda Corporation. The list of directors and executives provided in their corporate profiles showcases individuals with extensive experience and leadership within the company, but none are identified as being members of the founding Honda family【5†source】【6†source】. This suggests that the company’s leadership and operational roles are filled by professionals not directly related to the Honda family, at least among those publicly listed in their executive team and board of directors.”

    Well, there you go. Honda is just a brand name to the people running the company. They could easily jump over to Toyota or just cross the Sea of Japan and take on a job with Kia, assuming the Koreans would accept them (probably not). Their “skin in the game” is just financial, and maybe getting some invitations to hang out with the Davos crowd, if the Japanese executives go for that sort of thing.

  15. Maybe it’s just intended to be a loss leader. Honda will purchase a few of ’em (whatever a few is on the economy of scale) knowing they won’t likely sell. Then, they’ll take a tax write off on the loss.

  16. [In air-fingers quotation marks because, like the “MPGe” thing, it’s a fraud – perpetrated by the government. ]-Eric

    Anyone care to tell me a part of government or any of its edicts that isn’t a fraud. Just curious.

  17. Eric, I agree with much of what you’re saying. However, there is a bit of spark (pun intended) left to fan into a flame.

    With all the push for EV’s take a look at the results for this year’s Daytona 24 Hour and the Michelin Pilot support race.

    https://www.imsa.com/

    You have over a dozen manufacturers involved ranging from Hyundai to Cadillac. Granted, the GTP prototypes are hybrid but, everything else is straight ICE. There are scads of young, highly skilled engineers working in these programs. Young drivers abound as well. Just take 17 year old Conner Zilisch who drove the winning LMP2 entry. He’s the second youngest driver to win, in class.

    To me, Cadillac is the oddest duck of all. Does Mary Barra know this is going on? Chevy and Ford are also highly involved. Take a look at Ford’s new GT3 Mustang.

    As much as it might appear that the end is nigh, I think there is a solid Remnant that will take over the industry in the next few decades. Once this EV Fever breaks we might see a brighter future.

    • The slave owners keep shortening the deadline when ice cars are completely banned….

      this is causing huge problems for all the racing series….F1, Indy cars, NASCAR, WEC, DTM, WRC, FANATEC, ISMA, etc…

      How can they make plans with this uncertainty?…it takes time and a lot of money to develop cars….why invest money in developing ice cars if they are almost dead?…..

      when are they all converted to EV’s….and they lose all their fans?….

      The leftist/communist control group can ruin anything…..

  18. Eric: To say battery powered devices don’t cause emissions because they don’t emit them is like saying a person who craps his pants hasn’t used the bathroom.

    I’m gonna steal that line for sure.

    The problem I see with Ev’s is that in the end they like all vehicles have been micromanaged by .gov and the safety apparatchiks to meet regulations. Decades ago I drove a little econo box that was reasonably roomy but today you are being jammed into a little cockpit sized area so as to minimize injury in the event you crash. Even a mid size car is now as roomy as an economy air line seat would be for Lebron James.

    And if they all look the same it will be harder to get someone to pay a premium for the experience of being tied down to an under delivering charging infrastructure. But if all else fails they can still bring back a “simulated wood grain” exterior like your old 1970’s dehumidifier came with. Who knows nostalgia might sell a couple units at least.

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