Remarks by Dick Colliver
Thank you, Mr. Fukui. We're going to Clean, Safe and Fun in just a minute,...but first, I'd like to tell you a little bit about the year we just finished. 2005 was truly remarkable for Honda. It began with the launch of the innovative Ridgeline truck, and continued with significant updates to the class-leading Accord and Pilot SUV, culminating with the debut of the radically transformed 2006 Civic.
Along the way, we recorded our 10th straight year of record sales, earned a number of awards and achieved some industry firsts. Most notably, Motor Trend Magazine chose Honda products for both car and truck of the year, the first time that any manufacturer has received both awards in the same year.
Motor Trend named the Ridgeline 'Truck of the Year' - an extraordinary achievement for a pickup in its rookie year, - and validation of Honda's unique approach to the pickup segment. Importantly, the Ridgeline continues to gain momentum with consumers as well, posting sales gains in 10 of the past 11 months. Additionally, the all-new 2006 Civic's combination of style, technology and value earned it Motor Trend Car of the Year honors.
As thrilled as we are about these accolades from some of the industry's toughest critics, we're equally proud of our track record on safety and environmental performance, made even stronger by the arrival of the Ridgeline and the new Civic. This year, once again, Honda has the highest corporate average fuel economy rating and the lowest overall emissions of any full line automaker.
And as Mr. Fukui has indicated, we intend to further strengthen this position. And the car we're debuting here today is no exception to the rule. If you don't mind my saying it ... I think it will be a perfect "Fit" in our lineup.
Last year we unveiled the Ridgeline, the largest vehicle in Honda's line up. Today we are here taking the wraps off our smallest vehicle - but make no mistake, there is nothing undersized about this car's safety performance, its innovative features or advanced technology.
It's a highly refined premium entry-level car featuring a number of firsts for the subcompact segment that will immediately make it a class leader. In fact, we believe it will fit perfectly into people's lives...
Already one of Honda's hottest selling cars around the world, the Fit comes to North America with unique powertrain, feature, and safety content to meet the needs of buyers in this market. As the Civic has gradually moved up market, it has left room in our lineup for a new entry-level model. But rest assured, the new Honda Fit delivers a lot more than just typical small car value and fuel efficiency.
When you look at other entries in the subcompact segment, the Fit arrives at the top of the class in terms of standard safety, refinement, interior flexibility, and fun to drive character. The Fit will appeal not only to entry level consumers, but will also appeal more broadly to consumers looking for a fun, flexible and fuel efficient small car that serves as an ultra-comfortable cargo mover.
Powering the Fit is a 109-horspower VTEC engine, and a 5-speed automatic transmission that's unique in this class. The estimated 33 / 38 city and highway mileage is among the best fuel economy ratings for conventional gasoline engines in 2006.
Demonstrating its fun-to-use spirit and Honda's industry-leading packaging ... unique flip and fold magic seats are standard in the Fit. These innovative 60/40 split rear seats allow the seatbacks to dive down into the floor or the seat bottoms to flip up, providing unprecedented seating and cargo carrying flexibility. In a demonstration of impressively big smallness, there's nearly as much passenger volume as an Accord, and only slightly less cargo capacity behind the second row than an Element.
Fit comes with the most standard features in its class making it a leader among subcompacts. For example, we know that our customers want more audio entertainment options, and we'll be the first in the segment to offer a new level of iPod connectivity that will interact fully with the audio system.
The Sport model comes with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters - not only a first for Honda, it's also a first for the segment. The Sport package adds an underbody kit, rear roofline spoiler, fog lights, aluminum-alloy wheels, and an upgraded audio system.
The Fit is a subcompact that does not compromise on safety. Adhering to Honda's "Safety for Everyone" initiative, Fit has the most standard safety features in its class.
The Fit will go on sale in April as a 2007 model, and we're projecting sales of approximately 33,000 this year and 50,000 on an annual basis. We'll be announcing the price a little closer to launch timing, but we expect the base model will start between 13 and 14 thousand dollars. But the Fit is only half the story for Honda in 2006.
This fall, we'll introduce an all-new, completely re-engineered CR-V. And for the first time, we will be producing the CR-V in North America...at our East Liberty, Ohio, auto plant along side the Civic Sedan and Element...demonstrating once again the value of our flexible manufacturing system.
With the introduction of Fit in April and all-new CR-V this fall, along with continued momentum from the new Civic and other key models, we're projecting Honda Brand sales of around 1.3 million in 2006, which would make it our 11th consecutive record year.
Thank you for your time and attention this afternoon... let's make it a clean, safe and fun year.