Corporate / ASIMO
Remarks by Takeo Fukui, President and CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. -- North American International Auto Show
This was the first opportunity for most of you to see ASIMO. But probably all of you are wondering why we brought this advanced humanoid robot to one of the world's great auto shows. I am sure most of you look at Honda as an automobile company. But we see ourselves differently.
From the foundation of Honda more than 50 years ago, we have viewed ourselves as a mobility company. We began by producing motorcycles, because that was the quickest way to provide mobility. But over the years, we continued to focus on creating new dreams for our customers - and harnessing advanced technology to provide new and better mobility for people.
Certainly, it is too early to expect an ASIMO in your living room. But the same passion for new technology that created ASIMO is leading us in other directions in mobility.
Last month, we conducted a successful first test flight of a new Honda business jet in North Carolina. The airframe, wing design and compact turbofan engine are the result of original research and design by Honda engineers. We have created a business jet with high performance, high fuel efficiency, low emissions - and a spacious cabin. Sounds like a Honda, right?
Programs like this business jet and the development of ASIMO have important value for Honda. We have always targeted the world's most advanced technologies - and then developed new products based on the skills of our own engineers.
The words of our founder -- "Do - not - imitate - others" -- are burned in the minds of everyone at Honda. We have no interest in following. The value of creation is not only in technology. The value is in the Honda engineers who create that technology. And who will create new products for our customers in the future.
This philosophy impacts everything we do as a company -- especially the real world products we create for customers. Products that offer the highest level of safety and advanced environmental technology - and yet are still fun to drive.
Today, I would like to briefly outline Honda's near term strategy for advancing environmental technologies in North America. Even from our leadership position, we believe we - can - do - more to provide real world benefits for our customers and society. First - we believe it is possible for conventional engines to be cleaner and more fuel efficient.
Toward that goal, this fall, we will introduce a vehicle in the U.S. with Variable Cylinder Management. A V6 engine with VCM runs on all six cylinders during acceleration. Yet uses only three cylinders when cruising. Thus, VCM enhances fuel efficiency while maintaining fun-to-drive - and other performance features.
However, with conventional engines there is still wasted energy during deceleration and idling. So, we invested in original hybrid technology to increase fuel efficiency and performance.
Insight has ranked number one in fuel economy for five straight years. But the strength of Honda's IMA hybrid technology is that it is transparent to the customer - lower in cost and easier to add to existing models. This led to the Civic Hybrid.
Today, we are announcing the next step. The further expansion and evolution of Honda's hybrid lineup. This fall, Honda will introduce an Accord Hybrid with a newly-developed V6 IMA hybrid system. This new IMA system - combined with VCM - achieves fuel economy on par with the compact Honda Civic. But with power and performance exceeding the excellent acceleration of the current Accord V6 engine. This brings to three the number of Honda Hybrid models, including our two most popular model lines -- Civic and Accord.
As one possible direction for the future - today, you can see the IMAS. Ultra-light and exceptionally aerodynamic, the IMAS concept combines environment-friendly performance with sports-car excitement. After all, this is Honda, so it must be fun to drive!
By investing in hybrid technologies we also learned about electric motor control technologies that we have applied to fuel cell vehicle development. Importantly -- the Honda FCX is still the only fuel cell vehicle certified by the U.S. EPA and CARB - and in use on public roads today.
But we have already advanced to the next step beyond this leadership position. Last fall, we announced the development of Honda's original fuel cell stack. This stack has cold start capabilities in below freezing temperatures. And it is more compact. We are now conducting real world tests on public roads. But, today, we are announcing our plan to introduce an FCX with this original stack in the U.S. and Japan -- in the year 2005.
Just as Honda pioneered and advanced low emission technology and hybrid technology, the goal of these fuel cell vehicle introductions is to gain real world experience. In this way, we advance our knowledge of the strengths and limitations of fuel cell technology for more widespread application in the future.
Today, we have the Kiwami concept where you can see the benefit of Honda's more compact stack technology. Advanced packaging makes possible a lower floor - this enables us to create a roomy interior despite the low roofline.
But Honda is not just developing fuel cell vehicles. We are also taking leadership in the effort to develop a hydrogen fueling infrastructure. This includes a hydrogen station powered by advanced solar cells developed by Honda engineers. And a Home Energy Station that makes hydrogen from natural gas. These concepts represent an important means to reduce CO2 emissions.
This spring, we will begin research with this station and Honda's original stack FCX at our R&D facility in California. And we will conduct real world confirmation in cold climates in states on the East Coast. Through these original efforts, our goal is to contribute to the introduction of a hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
But Honda's commitment to advanced technology is not restricted to the environment. Two months ago, we announced a major expansion of safety technology in all Honda and Acura vehicles by 2006. We made this commitment ahead of the industry-wide program based upon our philosophy of "Safety for Everyone." We believe it is possible to advance both safety and environmental technologies. And, at the same time, make vehicles that are fun-to-drive. We even engineered our fuel cell vehicle to meet or exceed all government safety standards. And everyone who drives it, is surprised by its power.
This type of commitment is also the reason we make vehicles like the Acura NSX and Honda S2000. The production volume is small. But the value is high - both for our customers and for the Honda engineers who develop these vehicles. And that is the thinking behind the HSC concept car that you can see at the Acura stand. This model will serve as the basis for the next generation NSX you will see within a few years. We are committed to achieve the industry best performance - no - rival - exists - for this vehicle.
We believe Honda has a unique role within the industry. This means leading the way in advancing the important areas of safety and the environment. While, at the same time, offering our customers products that are fun to drive. And we will continue to use our strength in developing original technology to provide new and improved mobility for our customers.
This also means traveling new, more challenging roads ahead of others. In this way, Honda will achieve its vision of becoming a company that society wants to exist. Thank you.