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Automotive News interviews Takeo Fukui
 Date: November 19, 2003 14:48
 Submitted by:  JeffX
 Source: www.autonews.com/article.cms?articleId=45929
 Credibility Rating: 10


Unfortunately this Automotive News article is only for paid subscribers, so I will try to provide a summary of the highlights of the interview.

This is the article promised a few weeks ago from the Autonews/Autoweek nugget.

The heading of the article is New Honda chief puts the accent on performance which is certainly music to the ears of enthusiasts, but does it mean what we hope it means?

Within the article, we learn that Fukui is being a little coy when he states that the focus will be on performance. By performance, he's talking not only about driving performance, but safety and environmental concerns as well. He goes on to say that "fun-to-drive" will continue to be a key factor, but that's not necessarily to be interpreted as strictly raw horsepower. Fun-to-drive means the complete package - styling, ride, equipment, and performance.

In mentioning the goal to even out the distribution of light-truck and car sales, Mr. Fukui discusses two new upcoming light trucks - a "smaller Acura model" (the expected RDX) and "bigger Honda model" (the expected Pilot-based pickup) that are due soon. When asked if the Pilot-based truck will be debuting at the 2004 Detroit International Autoshow (widely rumored), Mr. Fukui responds with "I can't say." He says that the new vehicle (with its mix of ride comfort, fuel economy, and space utility), is expected to lure European car owners and existing Honda owners rather than Big-3 truck customers. He goes on to add that it hasn't been decided whether the new vehicle will be built at the Lincoln, AL (Odyssey) plant or the Canadian (MDX/Pilot) plant.

Regarding the Acura brand in general, Mr. Fukui talks about establishing a brand image which will distinguish it further from Honda products, specifically emphasizing exterior design theme. Mr. Fukui says "We want to strengthen Acura because the brand hasn't been established yet". Regarding the upcoming RL, Mr. Fukui states "The RL will be either rear-drive or all-wheel drive". There are no plans to follow Lexus and Infiniti with a launch of the Acura brand in Japan.

The NSX is briefly discussed, and besides the information released earlier (the NSX is still more than a year out), Mr. Fukui states that the NSX's key market will be the United States, with Honda looking at Japan and Europe as well. The performance of the car is their key focus, not the volume of production or sales.

Regarding hybrid powertrains, Mr. Fukui is asked whether Honda will be jumping into the "high-power hybrid race". His response is vague, only mentioning that Honda currently has both I-4 and V-6 hybrid vehicles (or soon to have, with the ASM). He says Honda is facing the question of how to expand the use of those two engines to other (mainstream) models. When asked which US models might get hybrid powertrains, Mr. Fukui responds that the V6 is "simpler, more compact, and less costly than others", and can "use a V-6 in any model". (Of course, he probably means any model where a V-6 currently fits.) He states that the goal for hybrid Honda vehicle sales has been targeted to amount to 5% of global sales (3,000,000), or 150000 vehicles globally, and 120000 in the US.

Last edited by JeffX on November 19, 2003 14:52

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