High on the list of things you should definitely read today is this piece by Automotive News' Mark Rechtin detailing just how Honda managed to turn the much maligned 2012 Honda Civic into the it-could-have-been-worse-because-it-was-worse 2013 Honda Civic, which has Honda execs explaining the way its efficient system allows it to unfuck itself so quickly.
I'm more interested in why they fucked themselves and their most important product (which remained popular despite being hated by the press). Here's the money quote:
"We read the market wrong," admitted Vicki Poponi, American Honda assistant vice president of product planning and a former executive at Honeywell's Garrett turbocharging division.
"After the Lehman shock, we thought there would be different consumer behaviors. We knew that unemployment would last a long time and that there would be recessional trends. We thought consumers would be more sparse in their needs and be tightening their belts. The Civic was going to reflect that world," Poponi said.
That didn't happen. Instead, everyone else made their cars better, added more content, and left the Civic looking like an airport rental Sebring.
A lot of this has to do with expectation. People expect the Civic to be fully contented at a reasonable price. Volkswagen did exactly the same thing they did with the 2012 Civic with the new Jetta, but they shrugged off the bad press, and started minting money. Same with the Passat. People still think paying way less for a VW is a good deal because they don't think they're getting less, whereas people will eventually figure out paying more for a Honda and getting less than you'd get from Ford is a bad deal.