There were hiccups in the latest Civic’s quality, but's R&D chief vows to improve.
Berkman says team has had several product successes in past.
TRAVERSE CITY, MI –’s North American research and development team will take a greater role in developing global product, a top executive says.
“It takes a long time to transplant the culture, beliefs and know-how of a company into new soil and then to execute it consistently and at a high level,” Erik Berkman, president-R&D Americas, says at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars here.
Berkman touts the forthcoming Acura NSX as an example of what the North American R&D team can do, as the reintroduction of the supercar was brainstormed here, not at Honda headquarters in Japan.
While the NSX program has generated accolades for stateside engineers, previous global product launches haven’t been as well-received. The ’12 Honda Civic compact also was developed in the U.S., and met with less-than-stellar reviews from the automotive press.
Berkman acknowledges those shortcomings. “We will continue to refine the current model this fall with both interior and exterior design changes to achieve that high target.”
Honda’s R&D operations in North America will lead the charge when the Civic is completely redesigned, citing previous successes in model years ’93 and ’06.
About 30% of Honda’s North American lineup was developed here, Berkman says. The next step, he adds, is ensuring the North American team maintains “full citizenship” in contributing to operations worldwide.
“After 30 years of making cars in America, I know we’re up to that challenge,” he says.