Corporate / Executive Remarks
2010 North American International Auto Show Remarks by Honda Motor Co., Ltd. President & CEO, Takanobu Ito and American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Executive Vice President, John Mendel
It's nice to be back in Detroit. I'm excited to be at the show this year as the entire industry continues to fight back against the difficult business conditions. Last year was the 50th anniversary of our business in America. And I want to begin by thanking our customers and the communities where we develop and build our products. This milestone would not have been possible without their support.
Ten years ago, I was working in Ohio at Honda R&D Americas on development of the first generation Acura MDX. This project led us to this Detroit show, because in 2001, our team was honored with the North American Truck of the Year award here at this show. I was also a member of the team that created the aluminum body of the original Acura NSX.
Last year, due to the business conditions and to focus on reducing CO2 emissions, we re-focused some of our product development resources. Now, I'm pleased to say that we will be adding hybrids to the Acura brand. And based on my history in developing several Acura products, I have strong confidence in our ability to advance the Acura brand.
As I look at the market today, at Honda, we have the advantage of being a very global company with strong operations worldwide, including the growing markets of China and Asia. Further, Honda has the advantage of three major business areas - including automobiles, motorcycles and power equipment products. Together, our global makeup and great product diversity provide us strength and flexibility in difficult times, helping us manage the ups and downs of any one market or product segment, while keeping Honda in the black financially.
Our three business lines also make us the leading engine producer in the world. This has provided Honda with tremendous expertise in the area of power plant technology but also a deep sense of responsibility to advance technology in order to reduce CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming.
For engineers, this is perhaps the most challenging time in the history of the auto industry. At Honda, our focus is on being at the very forefront in the area of environment and energy technologies. And we have taken up the challenge to reduce CO2 emissions through the advancement of various electromotive technologies.
We understand electric vehicle technology as well as anyone. Honda developed the EV Plus electric vehicle in the 1990s and leased it to individual customers in California. Now, we are conducting research on a short-distance battery electric vehicle as a "city commuter car." Battery technology continues to be a barrier to mass market use. But we're studying the U.S. market with a view to introducing this commuter car in the future.
We continue to believe that a fuel cell electric vehicle is the ultimate solution to reduce CO2 emissions. A fuel cell car IS a full electric vehicle. But rather than use electricity from the grid, a fuel cell vehicle generates electricity on board and refills more quickly. The development cost must come down and there must be a major expansion of the hydrogen fueling infrastructure. But make no mistake. As a vehicle, the Honda FCX Clarity is ready now. Further, Honda is unique in making long-term investments to develop the refueling infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles.
This month, we will begin operation of a next-generation solar hydrogen station at our Los Angeles R&D center. This compact system was designed for daily home refueling of a fuel cell electric vehicle. Honda engineers were able to eliminate the compressor entirely to greatly reduce the size of the system to fit in the user's garage. The potential of a solar hydrogen station is one reason a fuel cell electric vehicle is the ultimate eco-car - the best path to reduce CO2.
But in the near term, the most important approach to cut CO2 emissions is expanding the use of hybrid electric vehicles. To increase the opportunity for more customers to choose a hybrid we must be able to meet different needs with family, luxury and sporty hybrid vehicles. We will apply hybrid systems which are compact, lightweight and affordable to a wider range of products in the near future.
It won't be easy to create fun and affordable products that achieve a dramatic reduction in CO2. But we embrace this challenge. Honda is a company that loves creating new things for people. We are working in a comprehensive way dedicated to research and development of next-generation technologies in every field, to create products that bring joy to our customers and lead the way in reducing CO2 emissions.
My first assignment in the U.S. came in the early 1980s. I was a young engineer, developing the chassis for the first generation Honda CRX. You might remember it as the "pocket rocket". I remember CRX as a vehicle that demonstrated that a car can be both sporty and fuel efficient.
Times have changed, but the idea of developing vehicles that are both fun to drive and fuel efficient is alive and well.
Today, it is my pleasure to introduce, for the first time, the production version of a new sport hybrid car that further demonstrates the potential of the Honda hybrid system and our commitment to offer both fun and fuel efficiency in one dynamic package. Thank you.
Well… I hope you love your first look at the production version of the all-new Honda CR-Z, as much as we do. This is the global debut of a global car, and we're very excited to be able to bring it to our customers in the here in the U.S. For those of you who weren't around for the CRX that Mr. Ito helped develop, the CRX was ORIGINALLY introduced in the U.S. as a high fuel efficiency vehicle. However, with time, its style and fun nature arguably played a huge role in the birth of the tuner market. CRX became a darling of the enthusiast community - truly, a car that put a smile on everyone's face.
2009 was a very challenging year for the entire industry. But, December was a good ending to the year for Honda. I don't know about you, but we're glad 2009 is behind us. What better way to kick off the year than with the debut of this stylish and fun new CR-Z, which will join the Civic Hybrid and Insight as the third Honda hybrid vehicle in our lineup. And it will definitely put a smile on your face. I'd like to introduce and thank the chief engineer of the all new CR-Z, Mr. Tomobe; Mr. Tomobe, please stand...
CR-Z is an altogether new vision - a renaissance, if you will - for a car of the future; one whose unique positioning satisfies a new type of customer desire. The CR-Z was developed for a more discerning customer who is seeking a unique combination of forward-looking style, fun-to-drive spirit, advanced safety and fuel efficiency. Truly, a combination of qualities that puts CR-Z in a class by itself.
CR-Z is a look into the future of sporty and personal driving. It's a vehicle for customers in search of something that engages both their heads and their hearts, that indulges their spirit of adventure and their sense of responsibility to the environment. The CR-Z demonstrates in a most stylish way that you don't have to abandon your passions to satisfy your conscience.
Helping CR-Z deliver on these seemingly polarizing values is a 1.5-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine; an integrated IMA hybrid motor mated to a slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission; or an available CVT that produces 122 horsepower and up to 128 pound feet of torque. We estimate the CR-Z to deliver fuel economy of up to 36 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.
CR-Z's 3-mode driving system features a spectrum of driving options from a Sport mode that makes the car feel more tight and peppy; to an Econ mode that helps to boost fuel economy through the Eco Assist driver feedback function, introduced last year on the new Insight.
Now, I know you've heard from others with plans to offer up a product in this new segment. But this is a real car coming to you in just a few months.
Of course, it's a Honda. So, you know CR-Z will also feature a strong suite of standard safety equipment: six airbags, anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability assist and our unique Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure for enhanced collision compatibility.
With standard 16" alloy wheels, a 6-speaker stereo with USB audio connectivity and an automatic climate control system, CR-Z is chock full of standard amenities. Available options include a navigation system, premium audio package, fog lights, Bluetooth, and HID headlights.
The CR-Z will go on sale this summer -and we're confident it will deliver a driving experience unlike any other hybrid on the road today. The CR-Z will not only create a new hybrid segment, it will change people's impressions of how fun a hybrid can be.
Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date. As you heard from Ito-san, CR-Z will also add to Honda's long-standing legacy of fuel economy leadership. For the past 33 years, American Honda has been a leader in fuel economy. Our efforts to advance this commitment will only grow in the coming years, with CR-Z and additional hybrid models.
Further, CR-Z isn't joining a static lineup. Both the Honda and Acura brands start the year with the introduction of new crossover vehicles. The flexible Honda Accord Crosstour and the provocative Acura ZDX are helping us get a rollinke note that this is far from the final act of our 2010 auto show season. We've got a little more excitement for you in the months ahead for both the Honda and Acura brands. So stay tuned.
After surviving the difficult challenges of the past year, we're confident that 2010 is going to be a truly exciting year for Honda.
So, thank you again for your time and attention here this afternoon. And now, I'd like to invite Mr. Ito to join me on stage for a quick photo for my personal album. Thank you.