No More Honda Hoot

One of the big motorcycle events of every year is the Honda Hoot.  Honda owners from all over North America show up every year in Knoxville, TN.

But, American Honda is pulling the plug.

American Honda announced today that the 2008 Honda Hoot will bring to a close 15 years of what has been one of the most successful motorcycle rallies in history. Over the years, almost a quarter of a million guests attended the Honda Hoot which was born in the hills of Ashville North Carolina and eventually moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. At the first event, a little over 3000 attendees enjoyed what would grow to become one of the largest rallies in North America…

Based on the current economic crunch which may have significant impact on our customers during 2009, American Honda will take this time to seek out new and innovative ways to engage with our customers so that we can continue to ride together.

The language of the announcement makes it sound like the cancellation of the Hoot is a permanent deal, not a temporary expediant due to the current economy.

This is especially interesting, coming as it does just days after the announcement that American Honda is withdrawing from AMA racing.  Again, Honda is using the current economic situation as the reason for withdrawing.  I do note, however, that in February of this year, Honda announced that in 2009, that its Motorcycle manufacturing operations would be transferred back to Japan.  That announcement came well before any economic concerns.

It seems to me like Honda had decided almost a year ago that its US operations would be sharply curtailed, and we are now seeing the public ramifications of that decision.  I’m inclined to the belief that something is going on at Honda.  But I don’t know what.  And I don’t know if that something is good or bad.

Based on Honda CEO  Takeo Fukui’s rather downbeat speech a few days ago, Honda is under some financial pressure, but in the same speech, he seemed to be a bit more positive about the state of the motorcycle industry.

But the recent indications are that American Honda is really scaling back a lot.