This comparison reflects the current market situation of the car industry. Camry consistently maintains its leading position in terms of sales volume, only occasionally being surpassed by Mazda6. On the other hand, Teana seems to silently conquer the most demanding customers. Only Accord, despite achieving great success in foreign markets, faces difficulties in reaching and winning over mainstream customers in the domestic market, regardless of its role as a dynamic and powerful or practical and down-to-earth model. Why is that?
The Honda Accord is approaching its milestone 40th anniversary next year, which may seem hard to believe. Since its debut in 1976, the Accord has made remarkable progress, transforming from a young non-premium model to become a champion in many major markets, especially the United States. At the same time, the Vietnamese car market is experiencing new changes that are different from previous years. Cars have evolved from being valuable assets to essential means of transportation. They have become a tool that represents the personal style and uniqueness of each individual.
In its 40 years of existence, the Accord has continuously expanded in terms of power, size, amenities, technology, and materials. This is something rare for an Asian or even American car model. More importantly, these bold advancements do not compromise the operational stability or durability of the vehicle.
Furthermore, the Accord embodies Honda’s philosophy that a car is not just a mode of transportation. This has laid a foundation for its impressive connection with and loyalty from owners. Each generation of Accord is developed with a focus on the connection, emotions, and driving experience of the individual driver. This essence has transformed the car from being relatively unknown to becoming a part of American car culture – something that hardly any Japanese car has been able to achieve then or even since. These are the secrets that make the Accord an iconic car with a seemingly unbeatable position.
The harmonious combination of sportiness and practicality is another exceptional aspect of the Accord. As many may know, the name Accord first appeared on the global automobile map in 1976 when the first generation of this model was introduced by Honda. During this period, Honda’s CVCC technology quickly helped the company meet stringent emission standards. The choice of the name Accord was said to reflect Honda’s passion for achieving balance and harmony between people, the community, and the car.
Although the economic benefits of this pursuit remain questionable, it is obvious that this decision resulted in more personalized and appealing cars, focusing more on individual customers rather than compromising to satisfy the majority – something that many other service cars often aim for.
Since 1986, the Accord has sported a more athletic exterior look, along with significant improvements in the suspension system. This includes the presence of a double-wishbone suspension system at both the front and rear, lowered center of gravity, improved aerodynamics, and enhanced performance (the engine was first increased to 2.0L with 110 horsepower, accompanied by a fuel injection system rather than the old carburetor). Honda also produced its own darling from this home market and quickly established the Accord as a Japanese icon in the United States.
In the fourth and fifth generations, the Accord continued to demonstrate remarkable practical advancements without deviating from its sporty nature. With increased dimensions, the car entered the midsize sedan segment. However, to maintain its dynamic performance, Honda increased the engine capacity to 2.2L (fourth generation) and introduced the V6 2.7L engine with 170 horsepower in the fifth generation, along with a range of newly announced technologies.
The most notable among them is VTEC – a technology that quickly became a pinnacle of engine technology several years later. Accompanying these improvements was the advent of a sport mode in the automatic transmission, allowing users for the first time to manually select gears as desired. Collectively, these breakthroughs played an important role in the seventh-generation Accord, helping it become an iconic model in the U.S. market and dominate the midsize sedan segment.
Interestingly, since the sixth generation (2003-2007), Honda gradually divided the Accord into two separate versions – one developed specifically for Japan and Europe, and one tailored for North America. This was done to better accommodate the diverse needs of different markets.
The Accord sedan also entered a new playing field with completely new objectives in terms of emissions and safety – a very reasonable move after fully conquering the performance and features playground. However, the car did not forget its sporting roots, as Honda continued to increase power, improve suspension and transmission – important prerequisites for a significant leap in performance in the seventh generation (2003).
Thus, despite being positioned in the family sedan segment, which may seem monotonous, the Accord knows how to create differences and appeal to customers with its sophisticated mechanical systems, suitable for flexible operation. This is the ultimate secret that sets the car apart from its competitors in the segment.
The eighth generation of the Accord continued to witness clear differentiation but also an interesting fact. Despite increasing both performance and vehicle size, Honda managed to maintain excellent fuel efficiency (even better than before). After going through eight generations, the ninth-generation Accord introduced a new breakthrough with the heart of the EARTH DREAMS engine – an engine that optimizes fuel efficiency while maintaining powerful and smooth operation. The ninth-generation Accord is considered a proud symbol of Honda’s endurance, quality, and reliability. Currently, this version is available in the Vietnamese market.
The distinctive Accord and its selective customer segment cannot be ignored. The long-standing development history, absolute maturity in terms of technology, and unique characteristics ensure the car’s success in any market, including the United States, where car culture has long been established.
As mentioned earlier in the article, the Accord has always been a top-selling model in this vast market (for 15 consecutive years from 1982 to 1997, it was the best-selling Japanese car in terms of sales volume, leading the segment in 1991 and 2001, with over 10 million units delivered to customers). Even with the media, the Accord always brings a sense of reliability (Car and Driver magazine has included the car on its Best Cars list in a record-breaking 28 out of the past 32 years, voted Car of the Year in Japan in 1985, 1993, and 2002, achieving the Green Car of the Year 2014 title, etc.).
However, the notable success of the Accord in the United States raises questions about its modest sales in some typical countries, such as Vietnam. It is clear that despite being number one in the United States, it has been pushed out of other highly regarded and praised countries due to its lack of comprehensive market success. It seems that what the model lacks to fully conquer a market is an enhanced mainstream appeal – something that the Camry and some Korean models excel at.
In reality, Honda does not focus much on selling to professional business units, service cars, or rental cars, regardless of the fact that many of their competitors often do so (accounting for about 20-30% of sales volume) to increase revenue and gain market share. In other words, Honda’s cars tend to limit pure profit calculations and prioritize the “quality” of the vehicle – namely, convenience, equipment, and operational efficiency. The strategy of “increasing value for individual customers” has been very successful in attracting customers and providing them with attractive, flexible options in terms of features and amenities. In other words, the Honda Accord is not the cheapest car, or even the “best value for money” in the midsize sedan market. Instead, it is a personalized, high-quality car that often forms a strong bond with the owner.
As the saying goes, “The best-selling car is not necessarily the best car.” In the context of rumors about the potential launch of a new Accord model in the near future, along with honest confessions from the manufacturer about their calculations for the current generation, will Accord and its loyal fans soon witness a dramatic breakthrough?