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Honda: Seeing Too Far?


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18. May 2012

Theodore Levitt, in 1960, published a paper in the Harvard Business Review titled “Marketing Myopia.” Fundamental to the piece is the question, “What market are you in?” One of the famous examples he used is the railroad industry, which was in decline at that time as a mode of personal transportation, as people were taking other alternatives. Levitt posited that instead of thinking that they were in the railroad business, those people in that industry should have considered themselves to be in the transportation business, and consequently would have found other opportunities.

Myopia, of course, is the condition that is better known as nearsightedness. You can see what’s right in front of you, but when you get a little too far away, things become blurry.

Levitt’s notion comes to mind as regards the UNI-CUB, which the Honda Motor Co. will begin testing in June in Japan.

Uni-Cub 2

This features both Honda proprietary balance control technology and the Honda Omni Traction Drive System, which is said to be the “world’s first omni-directional driving wheel system,” which allows the rider (driver?) to move forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonally. It is a matter of the rider shifting her weight to control both the direction and the speed of the UNI-CUB.

The vehicle measures 20.47-in. long, 13.58-in. wide, and 29.33-in. high. The seat height is adjustable from 29.33 in. to 32.48 in.

It is bowered by a lithium-ion battery, and has a maximum speed of 3.7 mph and a maximum range of 3.7 mph. It is configured for driving (riding?) indoors.

Uni-Cub 3

While this is a clever device, and described by Honda as part of its “proactive research and development of next-generation mobility technologies,” here’s the question:

Should the company concentrate on building better cars or things like the UNI-CUB and the Honda Jet?

Hyperopia is the condition better known as farsightedness. Arguably, this is something that not too many companies in the auto industry can be accused of being afflicted with.

But maybe myopia isn’t always something that requires correction.

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