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Problems with the Fit Hybrid and Vezel Hybrid (as the HR-V is sold in Japan), have prompted changes.

TOKYO -- Burned by four recalls of its redesigned Fit Hybrid in just nine months, Honda Motor Co. is overhauling its r&d process to intercept problems better.

The change inserts a new prototype earlier into the research stage to test how independently developed components work together in a vehicle. Honda previously didn't pull the components together until after the research was done and development was under way.

The shortcomings became painfully clear after the third-generation Fit was launched last year. Since then, the hybrid version, which accounts for 60 percent of all Fit sales in Japan, has been recalled four times.

The latest r&d changes will go into effect for all cars worldwide, spokesman Teruhiko Tatebe said. He declined to say when the first cars developed the new way will come to market.
'One more gate'

Before, engineers in the research phase created automobile systems in isolated silos. The components were green-lighted independently and then sent to the development phase, where other engineers would install them in a prototype vehicle.
Now, the systems are installed in a prototype vehicle in the research stage to ensure they function seamlessly, Tatebe said.

"We used to check each system individually, not as a whole. Now, we added one more gate," Tatebe said. "If it is OK, then we go to development."

Tatebe said the change adds cost and time to vehicle development. He declined to quantify the increases. But engineers believe weeding out problems early saves time, money and headaches down the road.
The Fit was plagued by computer glitches. From October 2013 through July, Honda had to initiate the four recalls of the Fit Hybrid in Japan, two of which also covered its crossover variant, known as the Vezel Hybrid.

The first three recalls were in response to a software defect that could delay gear engagement in the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission or immobilize the car. The fourth, on July 10, covered 175,356 Fit and Vezel hybrids and fixed a software glitch in the engine control unit that regulated torque.
While the U.S.-edition Fit hasn't been hit by similar recalls because the hybrid version isn't sold there, Honda called back 6,200 of the cars in the U.S. last month to inspect and replace improperly installed interior A-pillar covers.
In August, Honda said it would modify 12,000 U.S. Fits that had been sold to retrofit them with an engineering change that improved the car's showing in a key industry crash test.
Too much?

The redesigned Fit boasted a new platform, transmission and hybrid drivetrain. "Not every new model is that complicated," said Kurt Sanger, an auto analyst at Deutsche Securities Japan. "My concern with Honda is they are trying to do too much too quickly."

The hybrid version is the first using Honda's new one-motor, dual-clutch gasoline-electric drivetrain. The U.S. version is the first Fit manufactured in North America. The Fit also is the first car coming out of President Takanobu Ito's global vehicle development strategy.

In 2012, Honda unveiled a new global r&d approach that empowers regional engineers to tailor cars to local tastes and boost local procurement. Each of the global nameplates, including the Fit, CR-V, Accord and Civic, is being developed simultaneously by teams at six regional r&d centers.

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What I don't like about this is that Honda allowed itself to get arrogant during the design process, something we would of never seen 10-20 years ago. Why the culture shift?

Yes the protocol has changed but has the culture, not likely, expect issues to show up elsewhere in the chain down the road...
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