Monday, May 7, 2012

BOSS Article : Part 7 Final.

I think it is a good time to conclude the BOSS article thread so here is Part 7, the final part. Again, here is the link to TOV forums Part 7 thread.

One final note, the article was in the January 2012 issue of the BOSS magazine and since it is now May, do bear in mind some of the comments of the article is a little bit dated.

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the ending of this article seems a bit abrupt, even stunted and rushed through. It almost seems as if the author has gotten impatient and decided to end the article immediately. Nevertheless, this article has been bold in the sense that it addresses numerous issues that many Honda hardcore fans and even some Honda employees have been unhappy about. It certainly has been thought provoking.

Motor Sports: Dwindling Spirit of Challenge Caused by a Wave of Reductions

On December 5, 2008, Honda announced its withdrawal from F1. In the midst of the collapse of Lehman Brothers at the time, and triggered by the global economic recession, automotive manufactures were withdrawing from motor sports activities one after another. Honda¡¦s decision was reached as the company concluded that it needed to redistribute its operating resources in the face of a downturn in business. Subsequently, Toyota and BMW also announced their withdrawals from F1, while Renault has cut back on the activities as well. It can be said that this was unavoidable considering the F1 entry fee, which was said to be as high as 50 billion yen annually.

However, the then-President Takeo Fukui definitively stated about F1 entry, "This is not a pause on the participation, but a withdrawal". Isn't this a sign of Honda¡'s change in its attitude towards motor sports?

The company, however, has not given up on its belief that motor sports are a symbol of "challenging spirit." It was Honda who participated in a variety of races with a goal to get on top of the world since the days of the company¡¦s founder, Soichiro Honda.

Nevertheless, it appears that the company no longer has the sentiment to take part in motor sports activities and aim for the first place. The sentiment is, of course, completely different on the race field. Not just the drivers and riders, but the mechanics and engineers are all hungry for victory and are risking their lives to cut down the time by even one tenth of a second. As if to throw a wet blanket on their passion, withdrawals and reductions were repeated one after another in the form of "management decision."

In 2009, Honda announced that they intend to cut its racing-related expenses to half of that of the previous year. The company pulled out of most of the works team activities in the motorcycle races except for MotoGP, and has evidently suspended its works activities in the Suzuka 8 Hours World Endurance race. In 2011, the Indy Japan series that have been held at the Twin Ring Motegi (in Motegi, Tochigi in Japan) operated by a group company, Mobilityland, came to an end. And in 2012, the budget for MotoGP, in which Honda won championships, is expected to be cut back from the current six-unit team to a combination of two works units and two satellite units. With this change, a MotoGP rider, Hiroshi Aoyama, will not be racing in next year¡¦s event, which means that there will be no more Japanese representation in the world¡¦s top group.

In Formula Nippon, Honda, despite supplying engines, was outdone by the Toyota engines in all races. Chevrolet is to compete in the 2012 IndyCar„¥ (IRL) event as an engine supplier, and if Honda were to suffer another loss here, the company may be forced to stop supplying engines. On a side note, the contract for F1 Japan Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit is in effect through 2012, and, as was the case with IndyCar„¥, it is possible for this series to come to an end depending on the attendance and the move by Fuji Television who broadcasts the event.

Some people believe that Honda withdrew from F1 because there was no more advantage of feeding back the technological development to now popular eco-friendly commercial vehicles as the FIA neglected on engine development, while only pursuing commercial success. As a matter of fact, Honda¡'s business is supported by its line of commercial vehicles that have little to do with speed, such as compact cars and hybrid cars. If they were to pursue profit as a corporation, it¡¦s no wonder that it is not worthwhile to participate in motor sports any longer.

But then, why does Honda keep saying that motor sports are a symbol of ¡ts "challenging spirit?" If it is meant to bolster the corporate image, what the company is doing is exactly the opposite of its intent. It's obvious that the world of racing is not so lenient that you could win the races just by doing the math, and each time the race division is shrunk, Honda has lost its strength and undermined its image.

The reason why Ferrari has so many enthusiastic fans is that the company has no hesitation in stating that "We sell cars so that we can enter races." There are many people who had admired and felt electrified by the passion for races that Honda once had. Fans are waiting to see Honda machines on the circuit.

No comments:

Post a Comment