Honda City Aspire Fails to Inspire the Customers

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 Today when I was about to start this article on the  Honda city, I was not sure how, to begin with. My last three articles were also on the same subject and honestly, I was feeling little ashamed and awkward writing another one. But then I thought if a company like Honda Atlas with billions can present a decade old Honda City every other year labeled as ‘Brand New City’ then why should I feel ashamed for my three articles posted within last 10 to 15 days.

On July 31st around midnight, Honda Atlas Pakistan Limited [HAPL ] posted a teaser image asking us “are we ready ?”. People started getting ready for Civic Type R, some started looking for a Civic hatchback, while others were thinking about Accord or CR-V. It is prudent to mention that Honda Atlas had halted the production & sales of Civic X Turbo due to engine knocking issues. The question thus remained, if Honda Atlas had discontinued Civic X Turbo, then how likely is it that company will reintroduce the same car? As it turns out, HAPL did not have any such plans. The only reason I could think along with many other people was based on too much optimism. A large number of consumers thought that they will see the birth of a most awaited and wanted 6th Generation Honda City. As a blogger to express my excitement, I posted a long blog about the teaser image.

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HAPL social media page, hundreds of other automotive pages and groups were busy and getting “READY” for the unknown and trying to scratch every other source to get hold of any tip. On August 3rd Toyota Indus revealed the facelifted Corolla while HAPL blasted the social media again with another teaser with a tagline “Accelerated Perfection”. The teaser image showed a SHARK-FIN Antenna; a radio antenna which has replaced the conventional whip type radio/satellite radio antenna in recent years. Now things started getting a little clear.  The teaser was clearly hiding a sedan model. People again got excited and now the arrival of 6th generation seemed to become more likely. Just because a 6th generation City has somewhat identical Shark-Fin Antenna.

Some took tag line too much serious and started their argument on basis of combination of words used and they applied all their high school grammar solving the puzzle.  Accelerating hinting something fast while perfection could be used for Civic. Civic,  because after launch last year Civic was criticized for its extremely poor quality built.  The teaser was showing a red color and red was used by HAPL at the launch of Civic Turbo variant, so the hints were somewhat directing towards a Civic.

Again I got excited after seeing the teaser and buzz around the social media. I spent next many hours researching this specific SHARK FIN Antenna on the internet and scanned through almost all Honda line up. The end of my research result was not exciting but full of suspense. Reason being I could not find a single vehicle in Honda line across the globe using the size, shape, and profile of the antenna fixture being teased. At last, I posted my second article stressing my readers to shed their ideas and opinion about this teaser.

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On one fine morning on 6th August, I was reached by a friend [ Husnain Sheikh] who is also a keen Honda enthusiast. The news he shared was very shocking and disappointing. But I later realized that it is very much possible. HAPL is capable of doing anything and they can put up any stunt. The news was not confirmed and more of a rumor. But as they say “where there’s smoke there’s fire”, I started believing. The nightmare is about to become a reality within hours. As a blogger who is always looking for some breaking news, I picked up my computer and started drafting the third article on the subject and this time reporting about the relaunch of the City. The same City which was revealed as a face-lift as 2017 Honda City earlier in April 2017. I could not imagine the reason behind all this.  The rumor started spreading and in return, there was only one response from everywhere. The response and anger were so strong, blunt and aggressive that I can’t even post here in my blog as my editor will not allow it and will censor it all together.I will suggest my readers that they must visit HAPL social media pages and read it themselves. I wish someone from HAPL could just explain the reason of face-lifting a face-lifted City.

Next day the social media was talking about one and only one thing, the Honda City, and a Shark. A few pictures were also circulating. Now my nightmare and fear of every other person interested to know whats coming from HAPL which was teased was becoming a reality. The level of disappointment and anger got tenser.  I started laughing and was also shocked at the hype created by Honda Atlas. HAPL certainly put a marketing gimmick in the shape of red color and the lame shark-fin antenna fixture.  As I mentioned earlier, I still could not understand what is such an important reason for a face-lift to a model which already got a face-lift to a face-lift to a face-lift. This pushed me to read an article posted by my fellow blogger Abdul Hanan. The public was not accepting the so called updates to Honda City earlier in April. I could only imagine what will be public opinion now.

The more shocking news for me was, HAPL is, in fact, doing a launch party in Lahore. The extravaganza was planned at 1 PM and the location was booming with loud music and extreme lightening show.  This exclusive event was an invitation only and many VIP’s and other dignitaries were there in beautiful attire. I have been following live streams of many car brands global launches and the show HAPL was putting up was not less than anything. A huge slogan “Makes All The Differences ” kept on flashing and everyone was waiting about to see what all makes that different. There was a ramp same like you see normally on a fashion show where beautiful ladies catwalk, displaying the new trends in the clothing industry. Everyone was holding their cameras pointed towards a spot from where soon something was going to appear.

After few minutes the door slides and the most awaited and teased object appears and started cat-walking backward, although it was not “accelerated” and the driver didn’t seem “perfectionist”. Interestingly facing away from the audience.  It seemed like it is feeling ashamed of something and I could understand the reason behind it. There was a reason to be ashamed.  It started backing up on the ramp slowly and steadily. I have never seen anything like this in the past. I mean in car launch events, the car appears at front of audiences driving forward. But as HAPL slogan “Makes All The Difference”, I thought it is the part of all those things making it different. The most talked about ” accelerated perfection ” was moving in reverse, same as going back to the past.  To the past from where all this started back in 2009.  I think it’s time Honda rename Honda City to “Honda Face-lift “. Please welcome another face-lift within 3 months of previous ones.

The event started and speeches were presented by high-level executives from HAPL. All the goods were presented and they shared all the efforts, research, development and hard work which helped to make this possible.  All those dignitaries invited on the show started gossiping and started asking each other whats new here. Inside everyone knew there is nothing new here which is projected via such a lavish show. There was nothing new on the show for the invitees except a hot, delicious lunch.

But for Honda Atlas, there is a lot to talk about. The representatives from the company were feeling proud of their achievement one more time. It’s same like in school a class fellow taking off from class every few months citing the same reason again and again; the funeral of his grandfather. HAPL blessed its customers with a Honda City, now calling it a “new City “. The model which is new in Honda’s book since the year 2009 for innocent Pakistani customers.  HAPL has “accelerated” the “perfection” of making old things look new, exactly same like you sit on a dinner table and you mom presents you with a dish which you had it yesterday and a day before yesterday; but your mom insists it’s freshly cooked because of the addition of “Tarka”.

Salesmen and marketers are known for making things twist and turn and influence the customer to buy their products. In an interview with the local TV channel, the GM sales and marketing Mr. Sohail Nawaz talked about the ” NOT So New City”. He said that HAPL has added the new features on the demand of customers. I wish HAPL could have heard what customer is asking and in fact, they know exactly what customers need but sadly no implementation. I don’t know what  Mr. Sohail was talking about ” yeh saray features”.  I was shocked to hear that he called faux/plastic trim pieces painted with the wood finish as “Wooden Paneling”. If it is wooden paneling I think the  ” NOT So New City” is inching closer towards the luxury and refinement of Rolls Royce. The so called new features required and demanded by customers as Mr. Sohail talked about it includes the chrome door handles and the addition of the so called Shark Fin Antenna, the fixture which will be talked about for a very long time. Rest there is nothing new in so called “New City”. When I posted my third article , I though that Honda Atlas might add at least an airbag to the yet another Face-lift but I was wrong.

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HAPL showcased the antenna not less than a huge achievement and they should because it is an ” Accelerated Perfection ” towards an in house development and step towards localization.  As I mentioned here above, when the image was teased I tried to locate a similar one on the global Honda line up and failed to find a similar one.  HAPL must be proud of something they developed on their own. We must congratulate and appreciate the tireless efforts, research, and development which at last paid off. I believe that HAPL can export this fixture and make tons of profits as the antenna is the sign of perfection. No wonder for HAPL ” it makes all the difference “.

The lame so called features in shape of the Shark-fin antenna and wooden paneling can easily be found in even the smallest aftermarket car accessory and decoration shops. A research on various online outlet reveals that a much better looking and better-infused antenna cost less than $5 shipped. And the door and dash faux wood plastic trim is not the different case either. I am amazed, disappointed as well as shocked that HAPL needs to reveal all these cheap things in the name of more features via a luxurious launch party, instead of feeling ashamed on this achievement in front of millions of its followers/ customers.  Even the TV anchor while presenting her news feed was SHOCKED at this antenna and literally, this antenna has created a shock-wave in Pakistan’s automotive landscape which will be felt for many years to come.

HAPL not only blessed us with the not so New City but also with the new website. I wish HAPL get services of some good web designer. The previous one was not good either but the new one is worst. It looks like going in reverse and past is something HAPL love to achieve.  It seems there are no check balances at all and its evident from simple examples. I could not find the achievement named as “ANTENNA” “BARKE ” or “PROMSATEC”  in any Oxford or Webster’s dictionary.   We totally understand this is overlooked which is very normal sometimes while doing celebrations.

 

 

When car companies make profits they also spend it towards research, development, uplifting of their assembly lines, increasing production capacities and most importantly providing customers with better-built cars with top class fit and finish equipped with more features including safety as a top priority. Car companies use part of this profit also towards developing local parts suppliers industry which in return will provide better-built parts for assembly.  Human development is also a major priority for them.

Recently Honda Atlas released their financials with impressive gains. Profits jumped and earning per share reached almost Rs 43/- per shear from RS 24.90  last year. The total profits after taxation stand above 6 Billion for the year ending 2017. The number was around 3.5 Billion last year, which means profits doubled within a year. Numbers are so evident that Honda Atlas made profits year after year. But Its hard to believe that HAPL could not develop a master plan or introduce a newer 6th generation of Honda City. Forget about the newer generation, so far and so they could not even deliver any vehicle from their local line up on time, that is within 3 months after confirmed booking.  Current Honda City which is in production since 2009, still have a delivery time of more than 5 months which is very alarming.  Customer not only face hardships due to this delayed delivery but also get trapped by a premium mafia. Dealers charge customers extra money on top of the retail price to provide vehicle earlier, thus making extra illegal money using unethical business practice.  There are also reports that all local car companies create intentional backlog to create the shortage and delayed delivery thus indirectly forcing customers to pay extra money.  Over time when any product is in production, the price remains intact or in some cases even gets lower. It is not the case with Honda City. It rises year after year with no apparent technological advancement.

When you look at the publicly available financial statements of Honda Atlas, as customers one really get sad and upset with the ongoing operations of the company and emotions gets more heated when you see the same car released declared as a new car with additions of antenna and chrome handles as sophistication and elegance. It becomes more questionable when we rationalize that even after making such huge profits companies are not spending the dime towards basic safety features, like even after years of production Honda City still lack a basic most important safety feature of airbags.  I wished Honda Atlas Pakistan Limited, celebrated this success with customers in the form of a newer model, but I think this is never on their mind. I think we should be happy at least some money is spent toward the development of the Shark-fin antenna.

Thumbs Up ! for “making all the difference” in profit margins.

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The not so “New City” is now a reality and sitting at all Honda dealerships across the country with an increase in the price teasing everyone out of showroom glass walls with its “Elegance and Sophistication “. The so called newly introduced features such as shark-fin “ANTENNA”, “Chrome Handles ” & “Wooden Paneling ” will give us heightened the joy of driving with one thing back of our mind; we are still in past and still in the year 2009.  No wonder Honda Atlas has created a class of its own in the shape of Honda City; that is why people are now calling it a Suzuki Mehran.  I think there is no power in our dreams and no power of us speaking for the protection of our rights as customers. We have accepted that whatever is thrown at our face, we welcome it and accept it without even speaking about it.

As a customer,  I think its time for us that we do not acknowledge any such upgrades and stop accepting low quality, less features, less safe and older cars comparing the international models. On the other hands, customers have no choice available in the market and that is the main reason of exploitation by current car companies operating in the country as a cartel.

The Honda City is not a bad car, but Honda Atlas made it a cash cow, minting money every single day since 2009. But time need change as well. A change towards betterment and improvement and in the case of automobiles, towards better, improved, featured and safer cars.  I wish to write about something new coming out of Honda Atlas. Writing and reading repeatedly about the same City as a “New City” every few year is now extremely boring. From my side, this would be the last article on City and I pray HAPL will help us on this matter and put a THE END on the season 5 generation City as well and let her rest in peace in the eternal life.

We all hope that Honda Atlas must seriously start working on  moving towards future, using front gear and not in reverse.

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Fazal Wahab

I am Civil Engineer by Profession and have love for High Rise Towers, Underground construction and Carbon Fiber Composites, automobiles is my first love. Its my passion to know and share about anything new in automobile industry.

Notable Replies

  1. Go to the youtube video page and give it a thumbs down. Lets see if we can make it the most hated video on youtube.

  2. The Term "NEW" has been really abused in our in this Industry !

    Consumer Rights = None

  3. Excellent article n I think it is an eye opener both for HAPL n it's buyers (customers).

    Simply seems double standards not to share new car versions in Pakistan.

    HAPL should rethink n review kindly to bring n launch new model in actual in Pakistan market with technology superiority.

  4. come on ATLAS HONDA...........this is the all new city.....???? Shame on u............launch the Sixth Gen....without a price increase.......

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