Corporate / Executive Remarks
2008 North American International Auto Show Remarks by John Mendel, Executive Vice President American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Good afternoon everyone. Stay where you are and no one gets wet. The ad you just saw is not only intended to build some real excitement for the FCX Clarity but we want to let consumers know that we think fuel cell technology has taken another big step toward the real world. It's further proof that we continue to deliver on our environmental commitment and take absolute dead aim at advancing Honda's innovative leadership. We're excited to see, now that everyone is talking about this important challenge the environment but this is a race we've been running and leading for more than thirty years. And we intend to maintain that lead and accelerate the pace of our progress. In just a few minutes, I'll be back to unveil the new Pilot prototype vehicle. But now, it's my great pleasure to introduce our global CEO, Mr. Takeo Fukui, who will share some perspective and exciting news about the future of Honda's environmental efforts.
Thank you, Mr. Fukui and hello again everyone. Hopefully, you've gotten a clear picture of where we're headed with our new hybrid and diesel technologies. Now, I'd like to shift gears to talk about the state of our Honda Division business and a new vehicle that will help carry our company to another year of record sales. 2007 was a big year for Honda. We launched the eighth-generation of our flagship Accord, Debuted our next-generation fuel cell car the FCX Clarity Began construction of our 7th auto plant in North America. And placed three Honda models on the top ten best-sellers list, including a dramatically styled new CR-V, which also took top honors as America's best-selling SUV for 2007. The result was Honda Division's twelfth consecutive year of attracting a record number of customers and 14th straight year of continuous sales growth that parallels our deepening commitment to the U.S. market both in terms of employment and investment. Let me also remind you that nearly 80% of our U.S. sales volume is produced in North America... And we're looking to carry that momentum into 2008 with projected sales of 1.4 million Honda brand cars and light trucks. And we will continue our focus on creating new value for the customer Like the Accord, CR-V and Civic before it the new, second generation Honda Pilot has its foundations set firmly in our image of the customer and what it is they truly value in a mid-size family SUV.
When the Pilot entered the market in 2002, it set a new standard for the mid-size SUV segment with its unique blend of crossover refinement, fuel efficiency and eight-passenger family SUV functionality. And let me remind you that the first generation Pilot earned six consecutive 5Best truck awards from ";Car & Driver"; magazine and that is in the face of increased competition. We've been able to advance this concept based upon the fact that Pilot like four other models we sell in America was exclusively researched, designed and developed by our U.S. R&D teams in Los Angeles and Ohio. This is the second-generation of Pilot developed by Honda's U.S. R&D operations whose understanding of the customer and the market has only gotten stronger. For 2009, we will build on Pilot's award-winning formula with a redesigned new platform that delivers a more spacious and functional interior the best balance of car-like on road dynamics and SUV toughness ...exceptional fuel economy and top-class safety performance In short a cleaner, safer, funner and BETTER IN EVERY WAY new 2009 Honda Pilot. So let's take a look at what we created in the 2009 Honda Pilot prototype.
This prototype model speaks clearly to the design and packaging direction we will take with the second-generation Pilot that will launch in full production dress as a 2009 model later this spring. Its strong front-end beefy pillar, crisp character lines and confident stance speak to its tried and true SUV attributes ? including ruggedness, ample space, and real off-road and towing capability. Let's take a look at the interior, where our family-oriented customers place their greatest focus
In typical Honda fashion, we focused on clever packaging and optimal use of space that is sure to set it apart in its segment. Three rows of seats for real people provide a high degree of adaptability for people and large cargo loads.
The third row also now provides enough knee room to comfortably fit an above-average-sized male. Meaning Pilot's 3rd row is not just for show it's among the most practical in the industry. These ideas reinforce Pilot's ultimate strength providing the most interior space, functionality, and flexibility in a relatively compact and efficient exterior package. Building on these traditional SUV attributes, Pilot continues to offer all-weather and off-road capabilities that this customer desires for their outdoor-oriented recreational lives. In addition, we beefed up Pilot's towing ability even more. The new Pilot will be equipped with a V-6 engine that employs the latest generation of Honda's fuel-saving ";Variable Cylinder Management"; technology with the ability to operate on 6-cylinders for power and in 4- and 3-cylinder modes for efficiency an improvement on the Pilot's existing 2-mode VCM system. It's the kind of continuous innovation and advancement that has made Honda a fuel efficiency leader.
Critical to Pilots success and consistent with our Safety for Everyone promise the new Pilot is designed to achieve the highest levels of safety in its class. This was a major focus of our U.S. design and development teams, which conducted all of the Pilot's safety development and testing at our state-of-the-art crash test center just down the road in Raymond, Ohio. For 2009, we are applying our unique ";Advanced Compatibility Engineering"; body structure to Pilot for the first time enhancing occupant protection while helping to mitigate the effects of a collision with vehicles of different sizes.
By the end of this year, ACE body structure will be on more than 90 percent of our volume in the Honda lineup. No other company or brand has made this kind of commitment to vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility - period. To achieve this high level of safety while trying to maximize fuel efficiency, the new Pilot also will have the most extensive application of high-strength steel in any Honda product to date. It's this comprehensive approach to safety that has earned us top ratings from our customers and from independent authorities like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In fact, Honda will put more I I H S ";top safety pick"; vehicles on the road this year than any other brand. We're also enhancing the premium appeal of Pilot.
For the first time, customers will be able to select a new Touring trim level, equipped with premium content to reach out to new buyers. As we get closer to the spring launch, we'll be providing you with more details on the new Pilot. With its bolder styling, enhanced safety, and fuel efficiency along with a more functional, spacious and flexible interior we believe the prototype model you see here today represents a stronger, tougher, BETTER new direction for the next-generation Pilot. Thank you again for joining us, and we welcome you now to take a close look. I hope you enjoy the rest of the show.