Remarks by Takeo Fukui
– Geneva Auto Salon, March 1, 2005 –
President & CEO, Honda Motor Co,. Ltd.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for coming to the Honda Conference. It is my pleasure to meet you again at one of Europe’s premier international auto shows.
Looking back at 2004 Honda achieved all-time record sales and production results in Europe. From the standpoint of sales, the Accord and Jazz were the driving force behind this success.
And, within the Accord line, the all-new Accord Diesel was the key factor in this sales growth. Honda’s i-CTDi diesel engine provides high performance together with excellent fuel economy, low emissions and extremely low noise. It has been well received by automobile writers and publications and … most importantly … by our customers.
Honda is now expanding the application of the i-CTDi engine to other models. Honda’s best-selling SUV, the CR-V, went on sale last month with the i-CTDi engine. Further, this summer, we will install this engine to FR-V, a compact MPV with a unique 3+3 seat configuration. In fact, today, we are offering you the first look at the FR-V Diesel model.
With this expanded line-up of diesel models, we plan to increase our sales in those markets where diesel vehicles are more popular.
Honda has always provided our customers with technology that offers the fun of driving together with advanced safety. To showcase some of these latest technologies, we brought a prototype of the European edition of the Legend here to our display.
This Legend is equipped with several advanced, industry-leading technologies that provide real-world value. Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is a completely new drive system which automatically distributes the optimum amount of torque to all four wheels based on actual driving conditions.
Legend also is equipped with the world’s first Collision Mitigation Brake System, which alerts the driver to a potential collision before it occurs … and then helps reduce the impact of the collision by assisting brake operation. Our Lane-Keeping Assist System detects lane markings to help the driver stay within the lane. And Honda’s Intelligent Night Vision System detects pedestrians at night and alerts the driver. These advanced technologies have earned great respect … and helped Legend earn the Japan Car of the Year award for 2004.
We have yet to announce the detailed features of the European version. But I will say that the all-new Legend will be introduced to the European market in 2006 with the world’s most advanced technologies including CMBS.
As Honda has proved time and again, we believe that safety and environmental technologies work together as part of the foundation of Honda product development. Toward that end, Honda has been developing fuel cell vehicles as highly promising alternative fuel vehicles for the future. Approximately 20 Honda FCX vehicles have been delivered in Japan and the U.S. for actual use by government and corporate customers. This year, for the first time in history, we plan to introduce an FCX fuel cell car to an individual customer in the U.S.
The FCX is equipped with the breakthrough Honda FC Stack, enabling it to start in sub-zero temperatures. In fact, we brought two FCXs here to Geneva … so that as many of you as possible can see why we are so confident about its performance.
In addition to advanced safety and environmental technologies, the concepts of “fun-to-drive” and “fun-to-use” have long been part of Honda DNA.
To demonstrate this commitment in the real world, an all-new Civic will be introduced to the world this autumn. A total of approximately 16 million Civics have now been sold worldwide. And we plan to advance this all-new model by appealing to our customers’ emotions based on the concept of “fun-to-drive.”
A new Civic hatchback model is being developed especially for our customers in Europe. From the earliest development concept, the styling of the new Civic was designed to appeal to our customers’ emotions. The body was made wider and lower to achieve a distinct sporty style that is new and unique to Honda. In addition, the new Civic offers class-leading performance with excellent environment and safety technologies.
As for the engine lineup, the Civic hatchback will get the award-winning 2.2 i-CTDi diesel engine in addition to a state-of-the-art petrol engine line-up.
As for safety, we plan to equip EVERY model in the new Civic line-up for Europe with class-leading features, including Vehicle Stability Assist system and side curtain air bags.
With all of these changes, the all-new Civic will shift toward the premium end of the class … while providing a true fun-to-drive spirit. And we plan to set a new benchmark in the C-segment based on the quality and performance.
Regarding production, we have long produced Civic for European markets at Honda’s Swindon, U.K., plant. Now, beginning with this all-new Civic, we are advancing this commitment by introducing diesel engine assembly in our UK plant.
We are planning to introduce the all-new Civic to Europe in early 2006. But we didn’t want you to wait that long for your first look at one of the new models in the lineup.
Today, we are pleased to show you the Civic Concept. And while this is not the mass production model … it is VERY close to the final styling. You will feel the emotion that has been passed down through the many generations of Civic.
Thank you very much for your attention and thanks again for coming today.