Honda Chief Downplays Sales Target, Pledges Communication

Takahiro Hachigo
Honda Motor Co. President Takahiro Hachigo. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Honda Motor Co.’s new president pledged to improve communication, while downplaying the importance of chasing sales that was widely seen as contributing to quality problems at the automaker.

Takahiro Hachigo, who took over as president on July 1, told reporters in Tokyo on Monday that his focus would be to “bring out the best” of the company’s vaunted engineers so that they can come up with products that are unique to Honda. He also pledged to increase his communication with “real people in the field.”

Under his predecessor, Takanobu Ito, Honda was plagued by five recalls for its top-selling Fit compact and three for its Vezel SUV. Lapses with those models led the company to cut pay for executives, including Ito, for three months. Days before announcing Hachigo’s promotion, Ito abandoned a target to sell 6 million vehicles annually by 2017.

“Six million is the business scale that should be appropriate for Honda, not a sales target,” Hachigo said. “Rather than focusing on numbers, we will focus on developing products that carry Honda’s dreams.”

Hachigo also said Honda has no plans to support Takata Corp., the air-bag supplier at the center of a global safety crisis, and will treat all suppliers equally, regardless of nationality.

— With assistance by Jie Ma, and Yuki Hagiwara

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