Executive Remarks from the SEMA 2015 Honda Press Conference

Art St. Cyr – Honda Performance Development President:

Good morning everyone. It's great to be here at SEMA with a vehicle that showcases our racing spirit and teases the future of Honda light trucks.

But we have a number of great products on display today that symbolize The Power of Dreams, and what a crazy good year this has been for the Honda brand.

Earlier this year, Honda launched the all-new HRV, and here you can see three project cars that further accentuate the performance and personality of our new gateway crossover. We want to thank the three shops that poured their passions into creating these vehicles for us, and we really hope you enjoy them all.

We also launched the completely re-designed third-generation Pilot this summer, and here we have a very cool, all-black Pilot concept that is also fully accessorized with Genuine Honda Accessories.

Making its North American debut today is the refreshed 2016 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid decked out in some of the expanded line of Honda Genuine Accessories created just for CR-Z. The CR-Z continues to offer a unique blend of hybrid fuel efficiency and personal fun-to-drive character.

Of course, the all-new 10th generation Civic Sedan goes on sale this month. And we have it here dressed up for SEMA in Genuine Honda Accessories, all of which will be available when Civic hits dealer showrooms later this month. Civic is the heart and soul of Honda's connection to the tuner movement that helped put SEMA on the map with a lot of young enthusiast customers.

Over the next 18 months or so we'll be rolling out the most expansive and sporty lineup in Civic history, including the Si variants and, of course, Type-R. You can bet that you will see some of these sporty Civics on display at the SEMA Show in the future.

Now, because I lead Honda Performance Development, I want to call attention to a few examples of Honda racing hardware on display.

The Pilot Baja Chase Vehicle is specially suited for a run through the desert. And along with the U.S.-developed Pioneer 1000 Side-by-Side, they're decked out in matching desert race livery.

One of a number of 2-wheel Honda machines we have on display, the Moto GP Race Replica RC213V-S is based on our world champion racing bike. And the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing IndyCar was driven by Graham Rahal, who challenged to win the IndyCar series championship this year.

Underlying all of these products is a fun-to-drive spirit, that while always an important part of Honda DANN, is something we've been working hard to re-imagine throughout our lineup.

Which brings me to the centerpiece of our story at the SEMA Show in this, The Year of Honda.

Honda is in the midst of a very aggressive new product cadence and this is especially true for our lineup of light truck models. We actually began last year with the mid-cycle re-design of America's most popular SUV, the Honda CR-V. That continued this year with the launch of the HR-V and Pilot, creating an incredible hierarchy of crossover models. But we're not done yet. Next year, we will introduce a completely re-engineered and re-designed Odyssey minivan.

And we're excited to share with you today, a bit of an early glimpse at the styling direction for the next major new model in Honda's truck lineup, the all-new, second-generation Honda Ridgeline pickup.

When we launched the first Ridgeline in 2006, we set out to create something truly unique in the marketplace, a vehicle with true truck capability but also with its own clear identity and value to the customer. The Ridgeline could tow, it could haul, and it could go off-road with great confidence. But it could do these things without the underlying compromises of a body-on-frame truck. These values helped it win selection as both the Motor Trend and North American Truck of the Year.

Our uni-body design approach meant a truck with inherently better, more confident and comfortable on-road dynamics, a more efficiently packaged and spacious interior, and also more flexible people- and cargo-hauling capability, courtesy of innovative features like the dual-action tailgate and large in-bed trunk.

Over the years, we've made a number of important refinements to Ridgeline. And we saw a bit of a resurgence in sales, when we launched the black-trimmed Ridgeline Sport and then the Special Edition model. If anything, this showed us that there is still strong underlying demand for the unique blend of attributes that the Ridgeline delivered.

So, earlier this year we shared a concept sketch that spoke to the styling direction of the next gen Ridgeline. And the next logical step in our launch plan was going to be a conventional Ridgeline Concept truck.

We might have stuck to that course, except we also had another competing idea, one that would allow us to show you an early glimpse at the styling direction for this new Ridgeline, and at the same time give us the opportunity to go off-road racing!

We've had Honda trucks in previous Baja races, two in fact. In 2005, in partnership with American Honda and HPD, Clive Skilton entered SCORE competition and he earned his first Baja 1000 class win in 2008. Then in 2012, Gavin Skilton and his California Race and Rally team moved up to a tube frame HPD Desert Pilot, finishing third in the Class Six Trophy Truck competition.

Well, forgive us please, but we're Honda and we love to race so we just couldn't pass up another chance.

Today, I'm proud to take the wraps off a truck that will take Honda back to the race that our own Honda associates first envisioned on two wheels in 1962 and where Honda bikes reign supreme with 17 consecutive Baja 1000 victories. A place where both the first-gen Ridgeline and the Pilot have been successfully campaigned in BAJA.

Here it is, the Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck!

[Ridgeline Baja Race Truck Reveal]

I'm proud to see this Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck decked out in HPD colors, something that signals that it represents our first-ever Honda FACTORY truck to campaign the Baja 1000.

It's based on a purpose-built, tube-frame racing chassis, engineered and assembled by our partners at Proctor Racing Group. To this race frame we've attached a body with styling developed by our own Honda Design Studio in California.

And while it's first and foremost designed to support this truck's racing mission, it also integrates some of the major design themes of the all-new production Ridgeline that we'll be launching in the first half of next year. The front fascia, hood line, roof, and side profile in particular, are indicative of the design direction we are pursuing for this new, second-gen Ridgeline. And, of course, you can see that Ridgeline will have a more traditional truck bed.

Under the hood of this truck is our very own Honda Performance Development HR35TT racing engine. This is a further evolution of the motor we first developed and raced to victory, in the 2010 American LeMans series and 3 class victories at the 24 Hours of LeMans.

It's an incredible workhorse of a powerplant, and it shares the same stock block, heads and crank as the 3.5-liter V6 that will power the new Ridgeline. Of course, competing in Baja demands an entirely different approach to power output, so we've got twin turbochargers, a custom-designed HPD intake plenum, and custom HPD engine ECU mapping. The HRT's more-than-550 horses of peak power are carried to the rear transaxle by an Albins ST6 Sequential transmission with torque converter.

Baja is a beast of a race. And I can tell you this is a real beast of a race truck.

Beyond some of the major styling cues, it's obviously a very different concept and purpose from the production Ridgeline. That said, it does a nice job in expressing not only our styling direction, but also the fact that the Ridgeline, for all its unique qualities, has been and will continue to be a pickup with true truck capability. That means solid towing, hauling and off-road credentials in the midsize pickup segment., and we're really looking forward to showing you the full execution in the months ahead.

Finally, let me introduce the team of drivers who will campaign this Ridgeline Baja Race Truck in the 1000. We have with us team principal and driver Jeff Proctor as well as other members of the team. I'm sure these guys would love to talk to you about their upcoming adventure.

We're happy to share some of the high-level styling direction for Ridgeline and to celebrate this desert race truck that signals the return of HPD power to Baja.

Thanks for your time and attention this morning.

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