That the U.S. market is an important one for Honda is no surprise; neither is the fact that American Honda developers and engineers are playing a bigger role in engineering the cars the company sells. But Honda is playing a game of musical chairs at Honda North American Regional Operations to further boost American Honda's share of the work.
Honda announced this morning that Tetsuo Iwamura’s job is growing. Currently the President of Honda North America, the COO of North American Regional Operations, and the President/CEO of American Honda Motor Company, he now adds COO of Automotive Operations and risk management officer for Honda Motor Co. to his list of responsibilities. That’s a lot of buzzwords and titles, but it all boils down to this: the man running American Honda operations will now head Honda’s international automotive operations.
Beneath Iwamura, Hidenobu Iwata will head a new company called Honda North America Services, LLC. HNAS will be headquartered in Marysville, Ohio (near Honda’s manufacturing plant) and will “provide common support functions and streamline coordination of R&D.” Again, a lot of buzzwords, but it seems to signal Honda’s commitment to putting American research and development at a higher level. Elsewhere around Honda’s North American operations, the executive vice president of Honda Canada Inc, Jerry Chenkin, will be promoted to CEO of Honda Canada.
The moves aren’t very big on paper, but if you give them a little bit of context it appears that Honda is shifting many of its research and development efforts away from Japan and to the United States. We already know that the next Civic will be designed and engineered here (in hopes of avoiding the 2012 model’s lackluster reviews), and Honda’s automotive crown jewel, the Acura NSX project, is taking shape in Ohio as you read this.