Beyond its sporty concept skin the 10th-generation Civic is in the vanguard of Honda's new approach to increased use of common component sets from an expanded list of suppliers. (Lindsay Brooke) 

2016 Honda Civic targets Audi A3, drives new modular-engineering strategy

When it launches this summer, Honda’s next-generation Civic will debut a lot more than a sporty new design language and more efficient and spirited powertrains. The 2016 Civic serves as the lead application for Honda’s new Global Compact platform that will also underpin the next-generation Accord as well as the HR-V crossover.

“It’s a super-significant global engineering program,” said an American Honda Motor Co. source who spoke with Automotive Engineering on the condition of anonymity. “Consolidating our two biggest vehicle platforms will dramatically boost production scale, by millions of units, across multiple nameplates.”

Equally important will be a bold new modular component-set approach, most visibly in the structure and subsystems located ahead of the A-pillar on the new-generation vehicles, which will leverage a broader use of global suppliers.

“We’re going way beyond our traditional keiretsu supply chain beginning with the ’16 Civic,” the source explained. “You’ll see supplier names who haven’t previously been with Honda on this program.”

With this development Honda joins a growing list of competitors that have recently introduced similar common-component-set strategies aimed at balancing cost, production efficiency, rapid technology adoption, and quality.

The lime-green Civic Coupe concept unveiled at the 2015 New York International Auto Show (http://articles.sae.org/14025/) provided a hint of the features, technologies, and the compact-vehicle assault that Honda engineers are preparing to unleash in the coming months. While the zesty concept at the show did not have an interior, Honda designers and engineers aimed well beyond the Civic’s typical competitive set for benchmarking interior materials and finish, cabin NVH, and occupant comfort, in addition to vehicle dynamics.

Audi A3 was our primary bogey,” the Honda source noted. “And I can say honestly that we’ve topped it with the 2016 Civic.”

A Honda R&D veteran described the general atmosphere at the company’s Raymond, OH, development complex as “electric and intense” as of early April.

“For the first time our North American engineering team is executing both the next global Civic and Acura NSX programs, virtually simultaneously,” the R&D source said. “Lots of late hours and stress there, for sure. But the products are transformative.”

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