Executive Remarks from the 2019 Honda Passport and Talon Reveals

Henio Arcangeli, Jr. 
Senior Vice President of the American Honda Automobile Division

Welcome and thank you for joining us here, and online on the eve of the LA Auto Show.

We have not one, but TWO great vehicles to share with you today—one from our Honda Powersports group and the other a new addition to our award-winning Honda light truck lineup.

At SEMA last month, we had some fun with the Rugged Open-Air Vehicle Concept which spoke to the unique capabilities of Honda and our diverse product lines, combining elements of our Pioneer side-by-side and Ridgeline pickup.

But this is the first time we’re debuting a new automobile and a new Powersports vehicle on the same stage. And as it turns out, both of the vehicles you will meet today share some common themes.

To start, both are built for adventure—one that will take you to the trailhead, and the other to practically anywhere you want to go from there.

Both also were designed and developed by our U.S. R&D teams here in Los Angeles and in Ohio. And both will be manufactured in America—one at Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing, where we produce ATVs and all of our side-by-side vehicles, and the other from Honda Manufacturing of Alabama,  home to Pilot, Ridgeline, and Odyssey.

So today, we’re showcasing some of the things that make us unique and enable us to say “only Honda” can do this.

I’ll be back in a minute, but to tell you more about one of these two adventure-oriented new Hondas, let me first introduce the vice president of the Powersports Division of American Honda, Chuck Boderman, who will tell you what they’ve got in store.

 

Chuck Boderman 
Vice President of Powersports Division of American Honda

Thanks, Henio, and good afternoon everyone.

So, “Life is Better Side-by-Side.” That’s the name of the advertising campaign we’re launching today along with the new vehicle that we’re all here to see.  But what does that tagline mean?

Our marketing people recently told me a story about two-time Motocross Champion Ken Roczen that I think captures the concept: When we signed Kenny to Team Honda in 2017, one of his requests was a Pioneer 1000, which he keeps at his place near St. George. If you’re one of the many people who follow Kenny on social media, you may have seen his Pioneer make the occasional cameo appearance.

Earlier this year, our marketing folks were out riding dirt bikes in Utah with Kenny’s family. At one point, when our team was catching their breath after a rough section, Kenny’s father in law, Greg Savage, mentioned that they often drive that same trail in their Pioneer.

“Some people look at us like we’re crazy,” Greg laughed, “but the Pioneer makes it through everything and lets us share the experience with each other in a way that’s only possible with a side-by-side.”

To me, that perfectly sums up the appeal of these products—the fact that you’re literally side-by-side.

In 2008, we released the utility-oriented Big Red, our first side-by-side, but in recent years we’ve focused exclusively on the Multi-purpose category, the largest segment in the side-by-side business.

We introduced the Pioneer 700 in 2014, followed by the Pioneer 500 a year later and then the award-winning Pioneer 1000 in 2016. That gave us a complete Multi-purpose lineup and a firm establishment in that category.

The Pioneers have introduced new technology to the side-by-side market, including Dual Clutch Transmission, Quick-Flip seating, Hill-Start Assist, and I-4WD.

While Multipurpose is still the largest category, the Sport side-by-side market is also showing significant growth. So our next chapter will enter the Sport category—it’s very important to our dealers and highly anticipated by our customers.

The Sport side-by-side scene is populated primarily by the 64-inch Two-Person class. Following a similar path to what we did in the Multi-purpose market, Honda’s multi-year plans will establish a strong Sport presence with new technology and versatility—first entering the 64-inch two-person class and then growing from there.

Development on this new vehicle was headed up by our Honda R&D branch in Ohio. And manufacturing will be handled by Honda of South Carolina, which has undergone a recent expansion to help meet the demand of our growing SXS and ATV lineup worldwide.

Which just about brings us to the big moment, but first let me add a small afterword to my story about Ken Roczen’s father in law.

At the end of that Utah dirt bike ride, Greg Savage pulled one of our marketing people aside and said, “You know how I was saying how fun it is to drive our Pioneer on that trail? Well It would actually be even better with even more performance. You guys should make a sport side-by-side.”

I think he was on to something. Let’s take a look.

Wayne Lambert
Senior Product Planner, Honda Powersports

How’s that for an entrance?!

Hi everyone. I’m Wayne Lambert, American Honda’s Powersports Senior Product Planner. And more importantly, this is the new Honda Talon! What do you think?

I’m so excited about this vehicle that I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to drive it onstage for this world debut.

And I’m not the only one who’s excited. This day has been highly anticipated by a lot of people, and for quite a while now.

A project as significant and important as this one could not have happened without a lot of help from a big team.

I’d like to thank the other project leaders. Honda R&D Los Angeles: Eric Dunshee Honda R&D Ohio: Jeremy McGuire Camas Reed Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing: Matt Joseph.

As Chuck explained, the Sport side-by-side market is really healthy at the moment. And our research shows that a large percentage of those customers own, or have owned, other Honda powersports products,  whether they be dirt bikes, sport bikes, ATVs, or Multipurpose side-by-sides.

These folks already have an emotional connection with our brand, and they want to own a Honda Sport side-by-side.

Well, now they can.

If you look closely, you can see that Honda connection through the Talon’s design and styling.

For example, the high bodyline and wing logo will be familiar to any Honda powersports fans in this room.

But the appeal of the Talon goes beyond emotion, as this vehicle brings new technology and performance to the Sport side-by-side world.

Like Henio said, we’ve leveraged Honda’s automobile technologies to deliver what is truly a high-performance four-wheel off-road vehicle.

For example, features like a Dual-Clutch Transmission and precise handling echo a sports car or super car, while the large-body Fox shocks and long-travel suspension are features familiar to anyone who follows off-road trophy-truck or Ultra4 racing—the main difference being that the Talon is actually attainable.

Speaking of suspension, there are actually two Talon models. And while they share 85% of their parts and are both suitable for a broad spectrum of terrain and conditions, each has suspension and wheelbase specs that are focused to achieve specific driving characteristics.

The version you see here is the Talon 1000R, which is 68.4 inches wide and has 17.7 and 20.1 inches of travel, front and rear, for exceptional high-speed tracking and large-bump absorption.

If maneuverability and precise handling are your priorities, the Talon 1000X delivers both, thanks to a 64.0-inch width and suspension stroke of 14.6 and 15.1 inches, front and rear respectively.

Both Talon models are powered by Honda’s awesome parallel twin-cylinder 999cc Unicam engine, which makes a ton of power and torque and produces a thrilling sound.

At least as importantly, it does an amazing job of delivering that power to the wheels—and, ultimately, to the ground.

That efficient transfer of power is thanks in part to the geared Dual Clutch Transmission.

While many of you auto folks here know DCT well, Honda is still the only manufacturer to offer that technology in any powersports vehicle, and we do so in street bikes, adventure motorcycles, ATVs, and Multipurpose side-by-sides.

Now, high-performance DCT comes to the Talon.

Tuned specifically for the Sport side-by-side application, this six-speed transmission has two automatic modes—Drive and Sport—as well as a full Manual mode, with steering-column mounted paddle shifting.

When our designers developed this vehicle’s interior, one of their priorities was to create a passenger compartment that lets whoever’s riding shotgun have as much fun as the driver.

Be sure and stick around after we’re finished here so that you can check out that and the Talon’s other impressive features.

Chuck mentioned our “Life is Better Side-by-Side” campaign, and that tagline could also apply to the working relationship between powersports and automotive.

And on that note, let’s bring Henio back up for some other big news from Honda.

Henio Arcangeli, Jr.

Thanks, Wayne. Congratulations—the Talon looks awesome!

Now, let’s talk Honda trucks.

It’s no secret that SUVs are all the rage.

This year, Honda will hit a new all-time sales record of more than 750-thousand light trucks and we want to thank all of our SUV, minivan and pickup truck customers for making that possible!

Today, we’re adding a new chapter to our light-truck story and, ironically, the nameplate of our very first Honda SUV, the 1994 thru 2002 Passport, returns as our newest SUV.

The new Passport, which will launch early next year, attacks a segment where we don’t currently compete.

It’s bigger, more rugged and powerful than CR-V, but more personal and sporty than the family-focused Pilot with even better off-road performance.

And while the market isn’t short on options, we believe the new Passport delivers something unique:  More off-road capable than “soft-roaders” in the segment, but with much better on-road dynamics than the off-road centric vehicles in the class, while still delivering a high level of rugged-terrain and all-weather capability.

And, I’m thrilled to be able to share it with all of you now. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome the all-new 2019 Honda Passport!

Jay Joseph
Assistant Vice President, Automobile Product Planning

Good afternoon everyone. I’m Jay Joseph, and I have the pleasure of heading up our automobile Product Planning team at American Honda.

As Henio said, this new Passport fits between the CR-V and Pilot in our lineup, with packaging and performance closer to the Pilot.

However, the Passport target buyer will be younger than a Pilot shopper, less likely to have kids, and with a higher household income than a typical CR-V buyer.

We see Passport customers as people who are at a life stage where a more personal-sized SUV suits their needs, and they want the confidence of off-road and all-weather capability, but with the style, comfort, and refinement to handle their daily commute effortlessly.

The overall look is familiar, sharing a lot with Pilot intentionally. But key styling cues and its unique stance and proportions, including a 6-inch shorter rear overhang and faster rear window angle, communicate Passport’s more rugged mission.

This starts with Passport’s foundation in our Global Light Truck platform, providing a rugged, fully boxed floor structure for strength and rigidity, while retaining all of the advantages of uni-body construction and a four-wheel independent suspension.

In other words, you get a vehicle that is tough enough for off-road excursions, with superior ride quality on-road.

Passport’s exclusive design details contribute to this rugged, yet sophisticated positioning with its blackout treatment for the grille, front bumper and LED headlights, and black wheel arches over the only standard 20-inch wheels and tires in this segment.

At the rear, standard LED taillights emphasize the wide rear cargo area within, and the dual chrome exhaust outlets add a little flash.

Passport was developed to deliver the space, versatility, premium features and technologies that today’s midsize SUV customers seek.

On the outside, depending on trim level, that includes all-LED lighting, heated and power folding side mirrors, a power tailgate with hands-free operation, and a standard multi-angle rearview camera with a bird’s eye view, ideal for backing up to a trailer.

Inside, there’s a standard digital driver’s meter, and from the EX-L and up, our latest Display Audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, HondaLink with in-car Wi-Fi, and over-the-air updates, and the very latest in audio technology: a volume knob. Maybe that’s more of a retro feature, but certainly an important one.

Passport also delivers the packaging magic customers expect of Honda, starting with the largest passenger volume and the largest combined passenger and cargo space in the class.

In the second-row, Passport has forward sliding seats for easy access to our spacious and versatile cargo area from the side.

Of course, there’s plenty of storage space for all of your gear.

That’s especially true in the back, where Passport borrows a trick from its pickup truck cousin, the Ridgeline: Instead of an In-Bed Trunk however, Passport has a “basement” cargo hold. At 2.5 cubic feet, it’s the largest hidden cargo storage in the class… perfect for stashing dirty gear or keeping valuable items hidden away.

It’s covered by a versatile cargo floor—carpet on one side and easy-to-clean hard surface on the other.
And, we’ll offer removable and washable accessory bins, including one for easy storage of your trailer hitch ball, pin, and the key for the wheel locks.

Consistent with our mission to keep Honda at the forefront of safety, Passport targets top safety ratings from NHTSA’s NCAP and the IIHS.

In addition, Honda Sensing will be standard equipment on all trim levels of the Passport. Standard Honda Sensing will be a major advantage for Passport. Only one other model in the segment offers this level of standard technology, while most competitors charge thousands of dollars to get a comparable level of equipment.

Under the hood, Passport’s 3.5 liter, 280-horsepower i-VTEC V6 engine puts it among the top two in standard horsepower in the class.

The V6 is mated to the latest version of our 9-speed automatic transmission, with its improved overall performance and shift refinement thanks to a number of hardware and software enhancements for 2019.

The standard towing capacity is 3,500 pounds, and with the optional towing package Passport can tow up to 5,000 pounds, perfect for toy trailers, a bass boat, or maybe a new Talon side-by-side.

To put the power down, all-wheel-drive models use our i-VTM4 torque vectoring system which actively sends torque to the wheel or wheels that can put it to use without waiting for wheel slip, like some competitor’s systems.

To that, we add our Intelligent Traction Management system, which allows the driver to select different engine, transmission, and all-wheel-drive performance settings for varying terrain and road conditions, including Snow, Sand and Mud modes. This system was tuned and tested in some of the world’s most challenging on- and off-road environments—Dubai, Russia, Minnesota, and the dunes of Glamis, California.

Some of you with us here today recently experienced the off-road capability of i-VTM4 and the latest version of our 9-speed automatic transmission at the 2019 Pilot press launch, and we heard how impressed you were by the kind of terrain Pilot was able to tackle.

Passport is even better. With roughly 1-inch more ride height and shorter overall length, Passport offers even better approach, departure, and breakover angles than Pilot, which translates to even greater off-road capability.

Now, you probably won’t see too many of our customers tackling the Rubicon trail, but on wooded trails, sand, snow, and dirt—where most customers use their SUVs—Passport is every bit as capable and, frankly, a lot more fun and comfortable than traditional hardcore competitors like Grand Cherokee and 4Runner.

As is Honda’s way, the combined goodness of this all-new Passport is packaged together in four very well-equipped trim levels: Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Elite, each offering significant competitive value in the segment.

Finally, as you can see, Passport is available with a wide variety of Honda accessories to let buyers customize their vehicle to suit their personal adventure.

There are racks for everything imaginable, and specialized accessory packages like the Adventure package here, which combines a trailer hitch, roof racks with crossbars and more.

I’d like to introduce some of the team who were instrumental in Passport’s development. There’s Lara Harrington, Chief Engineer and Development Leader for the new Passport from Honda R&D, and Justin Chiodo, Senior Product Planner for the Passport. They’re both available if you have any questions about our new Passport.

Thanks again to each of you for taking time out of your busy auto show schedule to join us here today.

We hope that having the chance to see TWO new Honda adventure vehicles made it more fun for you, and an even more valuable investment of your time.

Before we invite you to take a closer look at our all-new Passport and Talon, please give us just a moment for a few photos of today’s presenters and these two exciting new Honda 4-wheeled vehicles.

Thanks everyone!

News Reporter