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article details
Author Jeff Palmer
Categories Odyssey
Create Date September 01, 2004 06:00
Last Update October 05, 2004 14:11
And thus spoke Freddie

Birmingham, AL We are the champions! wailed Freddie Mercury from two heavily taxed stereo speakers. The man in control of the audio system was Yutaka Fujiwara. His audience: a mixed bag of journalists and Honda personnel lounging in the Honda hospitality suite, at the end of a long day. In between gulping mouthfuls of Really Expensive Sake, Mr. Fujiwara was stationed next to the entertainment center, leafing through a small collection of CDs, feeding them into the needlessly complicated CD changer, and punching up whatever tracks seemed appropriate at the moment. When the Queen arena-anthem began dribbling from the pulps of the poor Sony bookshelf stereo system, Fujiwara-san tached the volume up all the way to 11, putting a big exclamation point on the day.

Who can blame the guy for wanting to blow off some steam? After all, Mr. Fujiwara is the LPL (Large Project Leader) for the all-new 2005 Odyssey, so it's understandable if he felt that the weight of the world was finally sliding off of his shoulders. If you're not familiar with Honda-speak, the title LPL means that he is top dog on the project. Head Honcho. Numero Uno. El Capitan, ...well, you get the idea. While working within a very strict set of parameters, he is ultimately accountable for improving one of the most successful designs in Honda's history.

As it turns out, during the dinner that immediately preceded this celebration, I had the pleasure of sitting adjacent to Mr. Fujiwara. As I introduced myself to him, Mr. Fujiwara first said "Oh, Temple of VTEC?" and a subtle smile appeared on his face. For a split second I wondered what he would say next, but was relieved and somewhat gratified when he exclaimed "Very famous!". During the dinner, we discussed a number of things, including his own personal philosophy and goals of the project. While Mr. Fujiwara has been tasked with back to back family-mover projects (the previous project that he led was the Stream), he made it clear that he hopes his next assignment is to be responsible for Honda's "next sportscar". At this point, my ears perked up and I was hoping this discussion might lead to some sort of hint about what's currently going on at Tochigi in that area, but alas, I got nothing. In further discussions, he made it clear that he was very passionate about vehicle dynamics and driving pleasure. While the Odyssey is no sports car, it definitely delivers far more than most would expect from a minivan in terms of both dynamics and driving pleasure, but more on that later.

As for the goals for this project, they were numerous. But ulimately, the marching orders for Fujiwara-san were pretty clearly spelled out: Don't screw up. The current Odyssey design, though (by Japanese model standards) an automotive dinosaur at 6 years, is maintaining a brisk selling pace, right up to the production cutoff. How briskly? May of 2004 was the strongest selling month in history for the Odyssey, and it outsold the brand new 2004 Sienna in May, June, and July of this year as well. And according to the blur of powerpoint slides, it maintains the best demographics in the marketplace. In other words, the current Odyssey boasts the youngest, most educated, and highest earning buyers in the market. So one can hardly fathom the number of Maalox moments that fill a typical day for Mr. Fujiwara. Nevertheless, assuming Honda's able to keep filling the pipeline, their goal of selling 160,000 2005 Odysseys in the first year seems pretty realistic.

In pursuit of attaining these goals, it was (wisely) decided that the new Odyssey should build upon all of the current Odyssey's strengths, while taking it to new levels in terms of style, sophistication, dynamic performance, safety, comfort, and convenience. Easy, huh? Well, Honda often makes it seem that way, but many other automakers can't seem to resist the urge to fix what's not broken. .

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Date Thread Starter Thread
10-11-2004 19:21 Smaller and 300 lbs more?   (Score: 1, Normal) mchalk9012
09-25-2004 19:02 Where is DVD for NAVI   (Score: 1, Normal) alexmish
09-27-2004 12:54 JeffX
09-28-2004 19:32 gtracer
09-22-2004 17:28 Second clip soundtrack.   (Score: 1, Normal) NSS
09-27-2004 12:58 JeffX
09-21-2004 01:56 You ain't seen nothing yet!   (Score: 1, Normal) KeFear
09-25-2004 18:59 alexmish
09-17-2004 13:41 Sticker Shock!   (Score: 1, Normal) hondasales76
09-18-2004 16:14 RandyOdyssey
09-18-2004 22:34 TouringFool
09-20-2004 04:23 s2000black
09-22-2004 17:00 RandyOdyssey
09-15-2004 18:13 Great movie!   (Score: 1, Normal) vtechbrain
09-15-2004 21:51 JeffX
09-18-2004 22:45 TouringFool
09-21-2004 10:22 vtechbrain
09-21-2004 10:09 vtechbrain
09-21-2004 16:33 JeffX
09-21-2004 10:13 PAX Tires   (Score: 1, Normal) kingb1237
09-17-2004 08:08 Color   (Score: 1, Normal) alexmish
09-17-2004 22:13 JeffX
09-20-2004 23:18 TouringFool
09-17-2004 11:51 DARE TO COMPARE   (Score: 1, Normal) DUANTHONY
09-13-2004 12:03 New Colors for 2005 Odyssey   (Score: 1, Normal) jeff_rosenfeld
09-13-2004 22:36 TouringFool
09-02-2004 12:03 Jeff / It is all your fault! :-)   (Score: 1, Normal) Mike Freitas
09-02-2004 13:37 TonyEX
09-03-2004 03:38 s2000black
09-04-2004 18:16 JeffX
09-06-2004 22:38 TonyEX
09-09-2004 14:43 SRoss454
09-01-2004 16:56 Right on the money!   (Score: 1, Normal) toolman
09-03-2004 04:01 s2000black
09-09-2004 14:32 toolman
09-03-2004 22:27 Price??   (Score: 1, Normal) djSyndrome
09-04-2004 12:13 JeffX
09-09-2004 10:49 accord3
09-01-2004 20:10 Flat PAX tire in video clip   (Score: 1, Normal) vertrkr
09-02-2004 10:58 RyanDL
09-07-2004 23:05 bamanole04
09-01-2004 18:40 05 Odyssey wheels   (Score: 1, Normal) CivicB18
09-01-2004 18:43 JeffX
09-06-2004 14:47 gtracer
09-06-2004 23:05 JeffX
09-07-2004 16:39 gtracer
09-07-2004 08:03 Discounted 04s   (Score: 1, Normal) Hrandy
09-06-2004 21:49 No HIDs :(   (Score: 1, Normal) TouringFool
09-04-2004 15:35 Overdrive lockout button?   (Score: 1, Normal) KevFulk
09-04-2004 15:37 KevFulk
09-01-2004 14:51 Burn some incense for the Temple   (Score: 1, Normal) TonyEX
09-01-2004 15:25 JeffX
09-01-2004 15:46 RyanDL
09-01-2004 16:07 JeffX
09-01-2004 17:12 TonyEX
09-03-2004 09:21 AMCooper63
09-01-2004 13:23 3rd row seat   (Score: 1, Normal) 80honda
09-01-2004 14:09 JeffX
09-03-2004 04:06 s2000black
09-01-2004 19:01 Front end looks like Kia van   (Score: 1, Normal) BHonda
09-01-2004 21:35 PwrOfDreams07
09-03-2004 03:48 s2000black
09-02-2004 01:13 Features   (Score: 1, Normal) Amy
09-03-2004 03:47 s2000black
09-02-2004 20:17 Preview of 2005 Odyssey on Temple of Vtec   (Score: 1, Normal) joebig
09-03-2004 03:29 s2000black
09-01-2004 19:29 Yahoo! Ouch!   (Score: 1, Normal) Odysseydriver
09-02-2004 20:27 joebig
09-01-2004 15:38 power tailgate   (Score: 1, Normal) pluto
09-01-2004 18:05 CivicB18
09-02-2004 00:02 whip
09-02-2004 20:19 joebig
09-02-2004 17:24 crombie9118
09-02-2004 14:42 05 Honda Odyssey   (Score: 1, Normal) gjay1170@aol.com
09-02-2004 02:05 "Oh, Temple of VTEC? Very famous!"   (Score: 1, Normal) carcrazy84
09-01-2004 21:32 Best Summary I've ever read.   (Score: 1, Normal) tonyl
09-01-2004 19:09 I'm single and not a minivan person, but I totally want one!--n/t   (Score: 1, Normal) noelsxx
09-01-2004 18:53 Odyssey on track!   (Score: 1, Normal) CivicB18
09-01-2004 18:52 I take back what said earlier--   (Score: 1, Normal) noelsxx
09-01-2004 14:59 Great review, great vehicle   (Score: 1, Normal) HordtheViking
09-01-2004 11:39 WOW!!!   (Score: 1, Normal) Honda004
09-01-2004 07:45 Great review.....Canadian specs?   (Score: 1, Normal) RSX
09-01-2004 06:46 Sweet Van!   (Score: 1, Normal) Freak!
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