Remarks by Takahiro Hachigo, President, Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and John Mendel, Executive Vice President, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
I want to begin by thanking the members of the media who selected the Honda Ridgeline as the Truck of the Year. Ridgeline was created by Honda’s R&D and manufacturing teams in America. Thank you for recognizing their efforts.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of our announcement in 1977 that Honda would build products in America. We made this decision based on our commitment to build products close to our customers.
Last year, Honda reached the global production milestone of 100 million automobiles. And more than 65 percent of the vehicles Honda has sold in the U.S. in our entire history were made in North America. Last year, more than 96 percent of the vehicles we sold in the U.S. were made in North America.
In total, we now have 12 major plants in the U.S. building cars and trucks, engines, transmissions, power equipment, power sports products, and even airplanes. Local automobile production helped us achieve new sales records in the U.S. for the 2nd straight year. I want to thank our customers for the trust they place in Honda. This is the foundation of everything we have achieved and is key to our future.
Now, I am focusing Honda on two key passions we have pursued since our company was established.
First, to create products that help people in their daily lives. Second, to provide the joy and freedom of mobility. You can see this direction in our new products like the Civic and CR-V. This means a focus on great styling together with our new global platform and turbo engine technology to provide both the joy of driving and outstanding fuel economy.
All of Honda’s global models will follow this approach. For the future, I set a challenging goal to make two-thirds of our global sales from electrified vehicles by around 2030.
The Clarity series is part of this plan. The Clarity Fuel Cell came to market in the U.S. in December. This year, we will debut the Clarity Electric and launch the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid in all 50 states.
To further grow sales of electrified vehicles in addition to the Accord Hybrid and Clarity Plug-in, I’m pleased to announce that Honda will launch an all-new, dedicated hybrid vehicle next year. This model will utilize our innovative 2-motor hybrid system and will be made in the U.S.
As part of our effort to advance electrification within our product lineup in the U.S., we also will begin to apply the 2-motor hybrid system to our light truck line-up. In fact, half of the all-new models we will launch in the coming two years will be electrified vehicles. So, you can call this our “Honda Electrification Initiative”.
Gas prices have reduced demand for hybrid vehicles in the U.S. But in the long term, electrified vehicles are key to the future of carbon-free mobility.
We also continue to advance the efficiency and performance of our gasoline models. This year we will introduce a new Honda-developed 10-speed automatic transmission to be built here in the U.S. that provides improved fuel economy in passenger cars and refined drivability in light trucks.
Today, I am excited to reveal the first model that will be equipped with this new transmission.
Almost 20 years ago, as a development engineer, I began work on the 1999 Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey is now the most popular minivan with American car buyers and I am proud to introduce the all-new model. It was developed here in the U.S. and will be the 4th generation to be built in America.
Ladies and gentlemen, a product created to make every member of the family happy. The global debut of the all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey.
Well, as you can see, this 5th generation of America’s best-selling minivan takes Odyssey styling to a new level of sophistication and premium design.
Low, wide, with improved aerodynamics, a more sharply sculpted body side and a fresh new take on the signature lightning bolt belt line.
Under the hood is a new, direct-injected V-6 engine mated up to one of two new transmissions. As Mr. Hachigo said, this includes our first-ever Honda-developed 10-speed with global production being led by our transmission plant in Georgia. This all-new 10-speed will be making its way into numerous Honda vehicles in the years ahead.
These new powertrains combine with a much more rigid body and a sophisticated new chassis design, including more powerful brakes and an all-new rear suspension to make this the outright quickest, most fuel-efficient, best-handling and best riding minivan on the road.
Of course, there’s a whole lot more to our Odyssey story than just its class-leading performance. This new Odyssey was designed around the needs of the family. In every element of its design, features and function, this new Odyssey is all about keeping everyone in the family happy.
To achieve that, we put a lot of original thinking into this new Odyssey. But we began with an old idea — that families need time to connect with one another. Our designers had the image of a family campfire, with everyone able to join in the conversation.
One thing we found in our research was that our third-row users, typically the older kids in the family, felt left out. They like being in their own space but still want to be a part of the conversation. In a similar way, parents find it difficult in most minivans to communicate from front to back. So we focused on cabin quietness and really prioritized first-to-third-row conversation.
So, we loaded up this new Odyssey with a whole host of noise-defeating features, which you see listed up here, giving Odyssey the outright quietest cabin in the class, bar none. Of course, we didn’t ignore the modern family’s need for new-age connectivity either nor their desire for increased flexibility for doing what minivan buyers do — hauling the family, the kids, their friends to school, the movies, the store and on family trips.
And we’ve loaded up this new Odyssey with new features and technologies that will also make it the most connected, comfortable and flexible Odyssey yet. Let’s take a look.
That’s a lot of innovation packed into a short video, or into one vehicle. And we know our customers are going to love all this new Odyssey has to offer.
Finally, as we all know, safety is a core consideration for minivan buyers and increasingly safety is defined not only by a vehicle’s ability to protect its occupants in a collision but to avoid accidents altogether.
With Honda’s reputation as a safety leader, you can bet we’re again targeting top NCAP and IIHS crash safety ratings, aided by our ACE body structure, available new LED headlights and expanded application of Honda Sensing technology.
For the new Odyssey, our Honda Sensing suite will be offered as standard equipment on EX and higher trims, representing 95 percent of our sales mix. All Honda Sensing-equipped models will also feature Blind Spot Information and all models will have a multi-angle rearview camera.
Folks, this is one incredible new Odyssey, a Honda to keep everyone in the family happy!
And we look forward to sharing even more about our new Odyssey in the days ahead including full specs and EPA fuel economy ratings.
Odyssey is designed, developed and built exclusively in America. And we have members of the Odyssey development team with us today. Team, please stand and be recognized and thank you for doing your part to keep Odyssey America’s best-selling minivan.
And to help us meet strong demand for all of our light truck models, we’ve made the decision to move all production of the Acura MDX from our Alabama plant to the
East Liberty Plant in Ohio, effective next fall. The Alabama plant will focus solely on meeting demand for the Honda Pilot, Ridgeline and this all-new Odyssey.
Now, I want to ask Mr. Hachigo to join me for a few quick photos and then we invite all of you up for a closer look at the all new Odyssey.