Corporate / Executive Remarks
Remarks by Dick Colliver - 2004 Detroit Auto Show
It's been a truly remarkable year for American Honda.
Although it won't be official until tomorrow, our preliminary results show that American Honda and both the Honda and Acura divisions have set new sales records for 2003.
For the Honda Division, sales will well exceed the 1-million mark for the third straight year. In fact, 2003 marks our eighth consecutive year of record sales for Honda. With class-leading vehicles like the Accord, Civic, Pilot and Odyssey and breakthrough new models like our Element, we intend to extend that streak into 2004 and beyond.
2003 was also a banner year for our Acura Division. Powered by strong demand for it's two new sports sedans - the TSX and the TL - Acura sales will exceed 170,000 to set a new all-time record.
And we'll continue to grow the image of Acura by emphasizing the unique character of Acura and further strengthening the product line with enhanced performance and leading edge technologies.
Taken together, U.S. sales of Honda and Acura vehicles for 2003 will top 1.35 million units, a new all-time record for American Honda.
In fact, when the final numbers are tallied, American Honda will have crossed the finish line with the highest percentage increase and the largest market share gains of any major automaker in 2003.
But maybe even more important than the results themselves is the way we've gotten there.
By delivering popular products that people want to own and steering clear of conventional marketing tactics like customer cash, zero-percent financing and deeply discounted sales to fleets.
And our strategy continues to pay dividends in building real long-term value for our brands and for the people who purchase Honda and Acura products.
For instance, Automotive Lease Guide named Honda as the company with the highest retained value for its models across the entire industry in 2003.
This translates into higher resale values and reduced cost of ownership for our customers who understand that when they purchase a Honda, they're making a smart investment that will pay dividends in quality, driving enjoyment and value for years to come.
And they've rewarded us with their loyalty. According to Maritz loyalty data, 57 percent of Honda buyers returned to buy another Honda vehicle, the highest loyalty rating for any brand in the 2003 model year.
And as pleased as we are of these achievements, we're equally proud of our leadership in environmental and safety issues.
Every single Honda and Acura vehicle sold last year was a low-emissions vehicle while more than 50 percent delivered ultra-low or better emissions performance, more than any other automaker in America.
And we continue to excel in fuel efficiency. Honda maintains the highest Corporate Average Fuel Economy rating for any full-line manufacturer and leads in fuel efficiency in virtually every segment in which we compete, including our hybrid vehicles, which hold for of the top five slots on the EPA's 2004 fuel economy guide.
Looking a little further down the road, Honda is making significant advancements in fuel cell technology.
Last month marked the one-year anniversary for the delivery of the world first commercially certified fuel cell vehicle, the Honda FCX, to the City of Los Angeles. Today the city has five Honda fuel cell vehicles in regular daily use as part of its alternative fuel vehicle fleet.
On the safety front, Honda is also leading the industry with five of the fifteen models across the entire industry to earn the government's highest safety rating, including the Civic Coupe, the only affordable compact class vehicle to earn top safety ratings from the NHTSA.
Going forward, our "Safety for Everyone" commitment will take Honda safety leadership to the next level as we make features such as ABS and Side Curtain Airbags standard on practically every Honda and Acura vehicle, right down to our least expensive models.
Through these and other initiatives, we intend to build on our safety and environmental leadership as core attributes of all Honda and Acura products.
Of course, we can't really talk about our product initiatives without mentioning our North American manufacturing and R&D operations, which play a central role in our U.S. sales growth and in our ability to react quickly to changes in the market.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of automobile manufacturing for Honda in the North America. The official anniversary won't be until September, but we want to take this opportunity to recognize the efforts of our associates in Ohio, Canada and Alabama at meeting our customers' demand for Honda and Acura products in 2003.
With the addition of a second line at our plant in Alabama this spring, Honda plants in North America will have the capacity to produce more than 1.4 million cars and trucks annually, about as many vehicles as we expect to sell in the U.S. in 2004.
Working in close cooperation with our manufacturing group, the engineers of Honda R&D Americas have developed some of our most popular new models, including the Pilot, Element and the Acura MDX. In fact, nearly one-third of the vehicles sold in 2003 were designed and developed by Honda engineers in the U.S.
And today we have the opportunity to show you another example of how Honda's intense focus on the customer, in combination with our local manufacturing and R&D capabilities, is allowing us to identify new opportunities in the marketplace and react quickly with innovative, class-leading new vehicles that not only meet our customers' expectations, but give them something they may not even have imagined.
Today, we're pleased to give you the first glimpse of a groundbreaking new model that will take Honda in a whole new direction.
And I think you'll see that once again Honda is ahead of the curve.