Jeff Conrad - Honda Division Senior Vice President and General Manager:
Good morning, everyone.
It's great to be here with you in the Windy City.
Honda has introduced several important models here through the years... and in a few minutes we will continue that tradition with a model critical to fortifying our light truck lineup.
The Honda brand is coming off a record-breaking 2014 and as we get rolling in 2015 the Year of Honda is starting from a position of strength and we expect an even better year ahead.
Our passenger car lineup is unrivaled in the industry with a strong and clear hierarchy from Fit, to Civic, to Accord.
Each of these vehicles performed especially well last year.
And we just received great news... Accord was again the most popular car in America with retail car buyers...
Civic the best-selling compact car with retail buyers... and sales of the new Fit continued to accelerate... up 11 percent... as we ramp up at our new plant in Celaya.
But what has us really excited as we charge into the New Year...is the opportunity to provide greater value to American car buyers as they continue their enduring love affair with SUVs and crossovers.
As you have seen in the last several months, industry sales of SUVs and CUVs reached record levels... both in terms of overall sales and market share.
And, of course, the Honda CR-V again led the way as the best-selling SUV in America... even when key competitors increased their fleet volumes in the segment.
In fact, CR-V was the best-selling vehicle for the entire industry in Chicagoland.
Moreover, CR-V continued its reign as the best-selling SUV in America for the past decade.
And last fall, a significantly redesigned CR-V earned the Motor Trend Sport Utility of the Year award...which is where our step-by-step effort to increase our light truck leadership really began.
Next up is the all-new HR-V crossover...which will draw on Honda packaging expertise to become the true benchmark vehicle in a new and growing segment.
Sleek, fun, fuel-efficient and extraordinarily flexible...the 2016 Honda HR-V will crossover will deliver strong value for the money... with best-in-class fuel economy, top-class safety and, above all, Honda quality.
We're confident that our customers are going to love it when it hits the showroom later this spring.
And because it's unlike anything else on the road today...it's more than just a new gateway to the Honda SUV lineup...we think it will introduce a new generation of customers to the Honda brand.
Further down the road, you'll see a full redesign of the Odyssey and a new Ridgeline pickup.
In fact, today, I am pleased to give you a sneak peek at the styling direction for our next Ridgeline Pickup.
As you can see...the new Ridgeline brings more traditional truck proportions and styling than the previous generation...while retaining space efficiency, ride comfort and flexible utility that helped make the original Ridgeline both the Motor Trend Truck of the Year...as well as the North American Truck of the Year.
All of these new products ... the CR-V, HR-V, new Pilot, Odyssey and Ridgeline further exemplify our expertise and industry-leading capabilities in vehicle packaging, powertrain innovation, fuel efficiency and safety... with an added dose of dynamic styling.
This strong stable of vehicles squarely position Honda to meet the needs of SUV customers with the most innovative and diverse light-truck lineup in our history.
The first two generations of the Honda Pilot played a significant role in the growth of Honda's light-truck business over the past dozen years.
More than that, Pilot made a major contribution to the evolution of the SUV segment.
The 2003 Honda Pilot was the first mainstream 8-passenger SUV built on a car-like unibody platform... offering customers more space, more fuel-efficiency and a more refined ride and handling.
Pilot has a tremendous legacy in a number of areas...including its industry leading reliability and leading safety record.
The Pilot is the most durable, longest lasting SUV in its class, according to IHS Automotive.
Quality, reliability, and safety are core Honda strengths... and that's due in part to the efforts of our engineers at Honda R&D Americas.
Those engineers have a wealth of experience in developing Pilot for three generations now...and they understand this market very well.
On the manufacturing side, Pilot is and will continue to be built exclusively in America at our Lincoln, Alabama plant... which also is home to the Odyssey and the next-generation Ridgeline pickup.
More than 1.4 million Pilots have been built and sold in North America since the first generation model launched... which represents nearly a quarter of our light truck sales over that period.
And while the current Pilot is still a hit with customers, the starting point for this 3rd generation Pilot, was to make sure we continue to fulfill the growing dreams of families... with a sophisticated and high-tech SUV that offers best-in-class 3-row functionality.
To accomplish that, the all-new Pilot has been reengineered from the ground up to set a new benchmark in the mid-size SUV class.
That means this Pilot will bring class-leading fuel efficiency and safety... as well as the incredible packaging and versatility that has defined the Pilot over the past decade plus.
More than that... the all-new, 3rd generation model will be loaded with all the latest features that today's family buyers desire... with more trims, features and options than ever before.
All wrapped in a decidedly new, more sophisticated, premium-feeling and refined take on family SUV styling.
The next big step, in what will be an incredible cadence of new Honda light truck models, Ladies and Gentlemen... please welcome the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot.
Marc Ernst – 2016 Honda Pilot Chief Engineer:
Good morning. It's great to be with you.
As you can see... with sweeping character lines, an aggressive fascia and a new sleek profile... the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot expresses a youthful, modern... and yet sophisticated look.
With such a departure in styling from the previous generation, I guess you could say we were thinking outside of the box.
From top to bottom, we have advanced every aspect of this new Pilot... appealing to the buyer's diverse needs and wants.
That means incredible family functionality when the kids are in tow...and a stylish and premium contented experience for a night on the town or an off-roading adventure.
It's this dual-purpose character that we really sought to advance... increasing both family utility and the personal sophistication to meet the needs of the driver and all the passengers in every dimension of their life.
Our design team in California and our development team in Ohio have worked to create a new breed of SUV that meets the diverse lifestyle needs of family SUV buyers...AND bolsters Pilot's already outstanding reputation for packaging and family-friendly utility.
On the outside, the sleek, aero styling is accented by available 20-inch wheels... a first for Honda... as well as LED projector headlights, LED daytime running lights and standard LED taillights.
Another key feature that contributes to both form and function is an available Panoramic Roof... bringing more of the outdoors in...and anchoring the aspirational and premium feel of this new Pilot.
That same premium feel is carried over to the new Pilot interior...with higher-grade, soft-touch materials and available interior LED accent lighting throughout... making this the most well-appointed Pilot ever.
The overall effect is a much more personal and premium experience in ALL three rows.
Of course, packaging is a core competitive advantage for Honda and this holds true for the 2016 Pilot... with more space, more versatility and more family friendliness than ever before.
To start with, the vehicle gained 3 and a half inches in overall length, providing more cargo hauling flexibility.
Talk about Honda packaging prowess... this new Pilot can hold a large 82-quart cooler with no compromise to third row seating.
And we've added a reversible cargo lid...with carpet on one side and an easy to clean plastic surface on the other... for the kids' snowy boots and sled.
For third-row passengers, we've greatly improved the ease of entry and exit with a new One-Touch Walk-In seat feature.
The fully loaded model shown here, features a 7-passenger configuration with two second-row captain's chairs and a low-profile center console for an easy walk through to get to the third row.
And you can still equip the Pilot with a three-person center-bench seat accommodating 8-passengers.
Adding to the more upscale interior is a host of new technologies including standard push button start and a new remote engine start system.
An available heated steering wheel... and heated seats in the first two rows add to comfort.
While an all-new Honda Display Audio system features a larger 8-inch touchscreen with new capabilities.
These changes bring intuitive integration of smartphone functions with our latest generation of HondaLink system... enabling customers to seamlessly connect their smart phones... and open a world to Pandora and a host of other features.
In models equipped with Honda's embedded satellite navi, we're introducing an all-new system featuring better graphics, 3D display of buildings, terrain and freeway signs; live search capability; and more detailed lane guidance.
And when it comes to entertainment... we maintained the kids' favorite creature comfort... the Rear Entertainment System.
And we improved it.
We increased the screen resolution and added Blu-Ray capability, a Honda first.
As every road-trip savvy parent knows, access to power is crucial to family happiness and tranquility...for parents and kids.
And we've addressed this critical requirement with every imaginable port and plug for Maximum Family Connectivity.
THIS Pilot includes up to five USB ports, 4 of them with 2.5-amp charging capability.
Meaning you can charge an iPAD... or four of them simultaneously...for those extra-long trips.
There's also an auxiliary jack for MP3 players and three 12-volt plugs for other devices.
With these features and more, our Rear Entertainment System is now ready for just about anything.
This is serious plug-and-play functionality for the connected family.
And with all of these gadgets in the car, we've provided a new "tech locker," in the center console large enough to provide hidden storage for all of those iPads or even a purse.
And with the new seamless door in its closed position, a shelf appears between the front seats to keep your purse close by for easy access.
Powering the new Pilot is an incredibly advanced and highly efficient new powertrain from our Earth Dreams Technology lineup... to deliver an even more refined and confidence-inspiring performance.
At its heart is an all-new 3.5-liter direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 engine.
This powerplant incorporates our VCM system, allowing it to operate as a three-cylinder engine when appropriate.
And for the first time, we're adding a new ultra smooth Idle Stop.
We're pairing this new engine with two transmissions...a reengineered 6-speed automatic... and for upper grades, an all-new 9-speed automatic.
The model on display here has the new 9AT with a push-button control interface and paddle shifters.
Both transmissions deliver increased responsiveness and smooth shift quality for enhanced performance, and improved fuel efficiency.
Combined with class-leading aerodynamics with weight reduced...up to 300 pounds from the outgoing model... the new powertrain will help Pilot reach the top of its class for EPA fuel economy ratings.
We've upped the ante even further with a new all-wheel-drive system... that responds proactively to driver inputs, transferring power to where it's needed even before it senses wheel slip... to provide confidence in all-weather driving.
I know we are not giving you all the specs you might want here today.
But I can promise you this is the most powerful, capable and refined Pilot yet.
No family vehicle is complete without a discussion of safety.
And building on Honda's leadership in safety, this all-new Pilot will offer the full array of Honda Sensing technologies.
This is a comprehensive suite of leading edge safety and driver-assistive technologies that includes our award winning LaneWatch system ... plus features that are new to the Honda lineup, including... Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Monitor.
And, like every new Honda... a multi-angle rearview camera is standard.
No other midsize mainstream SUV on the market can match this level of technology... and no competitor on the market today earns both top NCAP and IIHS safety ratings, which is our target for this new Pilot.
To get there we've applied Honda's next-generation ACE body structure along with a new ultra-high strength steel door ring.
We expect this to help Pilot achieve the highest crash protection ratings in its class.
We are extremely proud of this third-generation Pilot and everything it delivers to the
midsize SUV class... in the way of new value, performance, fuel efficiency, safety, family utility and premium comfort.
And we can't wait to share it with you in the days and months ahead.
Thank you for your attention.
And now I'll ask Jeff to join me on stage for a quick photo... then, please come on up for a closer look at the all-new Pilot!