Honda Hires an Outsider to Manage Beleaguered Business

By Jacob Brown | August 18, 2011
It isn’t often that a company like Honda hires someone from outside its ranks to revive sales amid natural disaster holdups and harsh product reviews. But in a move to get back on track, the Japanese automaker has done just that.
Honda has appointed former Chrysler executive Michael Accavitti to its post as the company’s chief marketing officer. There, he will have his work cut out for him as he aims to relaunch the redesigned 2012 Honda Civic, which suffered a setback from the March 11 earthquake in Japan, and introduce the new 2012 Honda CR-V, electric Honda Fit, and redesigned Honda Accord next spring.
Accavitti has to find a strategy for finagling interest back to the Honda camp despite the fact that supply shortages and damaged production plants could still damper Honda’s ability to produce as many cars as it would like through 2012. He takes over for Steve Center, who will be heading a new environmental business development department at Honda.
Center told Automotive News that 50 of Honda's top executives took early retirement last year, and that many of them had been with the company for more than 30 years. Center says that Honda is "still a very young company," but that "fresh blood" is needed. "Fresh thinking is good, " he said, "but too much and you can lose your culture or focus." Just last month, Consumer Reports downgraded its opinion of the Honda Civic after reviewing the redesigned 2012 model. Dropping off the reviewer’s “Recommended” list for the first time since establishing car reviews, the publication cited poor interior materials and lackluster performance as the chief culprits for the new car’s lower grade. As Accavitti gets settled in, he’ll bring 25 years of experience from Chrysler with him that stems back to 1984 during the company’s revival as well as two years with Cisco Systems as its automotive consultant. Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)