Environment Forum

A Nightmare on Auto Street: Big boxes

When it comes to competition in the auto business, it’s the unknown that keeps the top U.S. Honda executive, John Mendel, up at night.

Mendel, speaking to the Reuters Auto Summit in Detroit, said he is always concerned about the conventional competitors. But what he is really afraid of is a company that “changes the game.”

“What keeps me up regarding new competition is someone significantly changing the game,” Mendel said.

People mention an autoseller taking up dealers dropped by General Motors, Chrysler or Saturn.

“What if they didn’t have a dealer network,” Mendel said. “What if they used big-box retailers and contracted with Jiffy Lube to have your car fixed?

Drivers say Honda hybrid doesn’t go that extra mile-court

Green car owners have apparently complained in such large numbers that the Honda Civic Hybrid isn’t living up to high mileage claims that the carmaker has approached U.S. government regulators about revising its mileage guidelines, according to a lawsuit by one Honda hybrid owner.

A California appellate opinion filed on Monday showed that a Honda customer service representative told Gaetano Paduano, the dissatisfied owner of a 2004 Honda hybrid, that the company had received “a high number of complaints” that the sedan achieves significantly less than its promised mileage of 47-plus miles per gallon.

The rep also told Paduano that the company and rival Toyota have approached the U.S. EPA to change the mileage rating on their hybrid cars, the opinion said.

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