Remarks by Hirohide Ikeno, President, Honda R&D Americas., Inc.
Groundbreaking Ceremonies for the new Acura Design Center

Thank you Charles and good morning honored guests and fellow associates.

Last year marked 30 years that we have been doing R&D in the U.S. I haven't been around quite as long as Charles, but I did join HRA for the first time 25 years ago in 1981. And I do share in his deep sense of pride and honor in representing the associates of HRA here today.

During my first tenure with HRA through the mid '80s we had not yet undertaken an auto development project. That came with the introduction of the 1991 Honda Accord Wagon, the first significant step in the growth of HRA. In the '90s it was my job to travel around the world to evaluate automobile products as they were being developed. From that position, I watched as the capabilities of HRA's American engineers, researchers and stylists continued to grow. In 2000, I returned as president of HRA. At that time, our engineers in Ohio were completing the development of the all new Acura MDX. The MDX, which was researched, designed and developed by HRA in the U.S., was named the 2001 Motor Trend SUV of the Year.

Think about 10 years, we had grown from a company that could develop one derivative model to an operation that was capable of "Complete Product Creation."

In today's market, the MDX has many competitors, but back then it was an all-new product - a unibody SUV. This was a completely new concept, created from the vision of HRA associates. Now, more than 65 percent of the Acura products sold in America are researched, designed and developed in America as well. And even the new RDX, being developed in Japan, is being led by one of our American engineers from Ohio.

Today, we break ground for a new building that will become the center for the design of future Acura models. And soon in Pasadena, we will open a new advanced design studio that will create future design concepts. These new facilities are part of our continued investment in Honda's U.S. R&D operations. In fact, Honda R&D will now have four major facilities in California.

But when we talk about increasing our investment in America, we are talking about more than just an investment in buildings and equipment. We are talking about our most important investment - the investment we make in our people...researchers, designers and engineers...and in their opportunity to create wonderful products based on The Power of Dreams.

Today's groundbreaking for the Acura Design Center marks an important new chapter in the growth and maturity of our local R&D capabilities. The creation of this new facility will lead to the development of distinctive and leading edge designs that will further strengthen the appeal of Acura products. And, like all new Honda facilities in North America, I am proud to say the Acura Design Center will be a sustainable green building. We expect to receive certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for this new facility.

Importantly, this investment is a tribute to the associates of Honda R&D Americas and our LA Center. It is the success of their efforts that have made this possible. Now, this new Acura Design Center will bring an even greater focus and distinction to future Acura products. This is especially important as the Acura brand enters its third decade, and a new phase in its own growth and evolution. At Honda R&D Americas we are committed to our role in advancing Acura's reputation of leadership and innovation.

So...celebrating the past but looking to the future, to all of the Honda associates who have worked over the past 20 years to advance the Acura brand I would like to say..."Happy 20th Birthday."

Together, we will make the next 20 years even better!

Thank you.

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