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Remarks by Tom Elliott at 2004 North American International Auto Show
 Date: January 04, 2004 15:43
 Submitted by:  Tuan
 Source: Honda Press Release
 Credibility Rating: N/A


Detroit, Mich. 04/04/2004 -- Good afternoon everyone. Well, for years we've told you we have no plans for a truck. Today, I'll tell you that we do. More accurately, a Sports Utility Truck.

And although what we're showing today is a concept, it gives you a good idea at the direction that we will take with an all-new Honda SUT to be built in Allison, Ontario, and launched in the 2005 calendar year

Before you start thinking this is Honda's first truck, let me take you back a few years to 1963 when Honda launched its very first automotive product, the T360 sports truck. Powered by a 360cc engine, the T360 put out 30 horsepower.

Obviously, we've come a long way since then.

In the past ten years, Honda light trucks have played an important part in our growth, both in terms of our ability to retain existing Honda customers and in attracting new buyers to the Honda family. In a short ten years, American Honda has gone from a lineup without a single light truck, to sales of more than half a million SUVs and minivans in 2003.

At the same time as Honda has been growing its light truck sales, the truck market itself has been changing.

In much the same way that SUVs evolved from hard riding vehicles with body-on-frame construction to more refined and well-appointed trucks and finally to car-based platforms, the pickup truck market is starting to undergo a similar evolution.

Today's trucks reflect a growing diversity in the way trucks are being used and viewed by American consumers, many of whom are looking at trucks not as work vehicles but instead as products to support their active lifestyles.

What was once a market dominated by sparsely appointed two door pickups designed for use on the farm and construction sites has changed dramatically in recent years to include a wide array of variations on the traditional truck theme, including quad cabs, crew cabs and, most recently, truck-based SUTs.

All these vehicles, to varying degrees, are trying to address the desire on the part of today's consumers for trucks with a higher level of refinement, sophistication, style and comfort.

The Honda SUT takes the next step in addressing this trend.

By combining the utility of a pickup, the practicality of an SUV and the advantages of unibody design - including better packaging, improved comfort and superior ride and handling dynamics - the Honda SUT represents a next-generation truck for a new wave of truck buyers, with more refined tastes and active, outdoor-oriented lifestyles.

As you heard from our designers, this concept centered around the image of a 'cool dad' as the embodiment of this new type of truck buyer.

The cool dad has a growing family and outdoor hobbies and is looking for something that is responsible, practical and comfortable enough for his family, but at the same time has the rugged utility to support his active lifestyle.

But the cool dad is not just a lifestyle image. More importantly, it represents a large group of existing customers who have grown up in the Honda family, and will serve as the main source of buyers for this new vehicle.

The Honda SUT delivers on all their expectations for an active lifestyle vehicle.

Taking advantage of its unibody platform, the Honda SUT delivers a spacious five-passenger interior in a more sensibly sized vehicle with substantially improved ride comfort, handling performance and overall refinement versus traditional truck-based vehicles.

In the back, the Honda SUT delivers the utility and cargo space this buyer is looking for. With an extra-wide five-foot bed, a deeper cargo box and less wheel arch intrusion than a typical truck, the Honda SUT offers improved cargo hauling capabilities versus existing truck-based SUTs.

And because it's a Honda, it needs to be fun-to-drive. With a high output, high torque all-aluminum V6, four-wheel independent suspension and four wheel disk brakes, the Honda SUT Concept delivers the kind of sporty performance that the "cool dad" can definitely appreciate.

With its wide track, and advanced electronically controlled four-wheel drive system, the Honda SUT provides a high level of stability, controllability and all-weather handling confidence.

It's also a vehicle that takes seriously its responsibility to society and sets a new standard in safety and environmental responsibility.

In keeping with our Safety for Everyone concept, the Honda SUT carries a full array of advanced safety features including Vehicle Stability Assist, Intelligent front and side airbags systems with occupant sensing capabilities and a side-curtain airbag system with rollover sensors.

In the category of emissions and fuel efficiency, the Honda SUT excels with Ultra-Low Emissions performance and class-leading fuel efficiency.

Finally, the SUT Concept brings a whole new look and style to the truck segment. With a fully integrated bed and cab, strong but agile stance and next-generation styling, the SUT communicates a sense of something entirely new and uniquely Honda.

It's a new look and a new direction for the truck market and, most importantly, it's a Honda -- in every sense of the word.

That means innovative and thoughtful design, superior ergonomics, world-class durability, quality and reliability and always fun-to-drive. All things that we're confident will appeal to a new generation of truck buyers looking for something a little different than your typical truck.

We look forward to coming back next year to give you the first look at the production version.

For now, though, I'd like to invite you to come up and take a closer look at the Honda Sport Utility Truck.
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