Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us here today.
It's been an exciting show so far, and in just a couple of minutes, we're going to add to that excitement with the world debut of a different kind of Honda.
It's a vehicle that's going to play an important role in continuing our uninterrupted streak of record sales performances.
This past year, Honda sold nearly 1.2 million vehicles.
That's the ninth straight year of record sales for the Honda brand.
Add in an all-time record year for our Acura Division, and American Honda posted its eleventh consecutive year-over-year sales increase.
For 2005, we're projecting another record sales year for American Honda. Our goal for 2005 is nearly 1.5 million units.
It's the kind of steady and sustainable growth that we like to see...
... and it's driven by cars and trucks that set the standards for their class and deliver on the features, performance, value and innovation that our customers have come to expect from Honda.
For example, this past year we introduced an all-new Odyssey that completely redefined what a minivan could be.
And last month we added to our lineup of groundbreaking hybrid vehicles with the launch of the Accord Hybrid.
It's our third hybrid vehicle and the first hybrid that delivers both improved fuel economy and exhilarating performance. It also means we've got Honda hybrid technology in our two best selling models. That's how confident we are in the future of this technology.
It's one of the reasons that Honda has earned the title of America's "Greenest Automaker" from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
This marks the third consecutive time Honda has received this title for total environmental performance.
Another area where we are committed to leading the industry is safety. Why? Because it's the right thing to do.
Through our industry-leading "safety for everyone" initiative, we are making features such as ABS and side curtain airbags standard on virtually every Honda and Acura vehicle.
This is a commitment no one else in the industry has matched.
It's just one more example of our philosophy of going beyond what our customers expect, or even imagine.
And you'll definitely recognize that approach in the exciting new Honda we're introducing to the world here today.
Last year, sales of Honda light trucks including the Element, Pilot, CR-V and Odyssey reached nearly 500,000 units or roughly 40 percent of the total sales.
And we believe this segment will remain critical to our future success.
Today, more than half of all new vehicle sales, are trucks.
And In five more years, trucks will account for almost 60% of the market.
But even as this market continues to grow, it is also evolving to include a larger and more diverse group of customers, many of whom have grown up in Honda products and appreciate the values of Honda design, Honda engineering and Honda quality.
We gave you a pretty strong hint of where we're headed with our new truck when we introduced the concept version here one year ago. Back then, we talked about a next-generation truck designed to appeal to this new generation of truck buyers.
Well, we've been hard at work this past year, bringing that concept to life. It's a vehicle designed from the ground up to answer the challenges of this evolving market and redefine what a truck can be. Now, I'm very pleased to show you the real thing. Ladies and gentlemen, the Honda Ridgeline.
RIDGELINE TEASER VIDEO AND LIVE MULTI VEHICLE REVEAL
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the 2006 Ridgeline from Honda.
RIDGELINE PRODUCT VIDEO
Well here it is...Honda's first truck.
This new Ridgeline delivers the right mix of truck capability, towing performance and ruggedness...
Along with a level of comfort, convenience and amenities not found in your typical pickup...
What you see here is a comfortable people hauler, able cargo transporter and practical everyday driver.
A vehicle that exhibits all of Honda's core values - it's fun to drive...
Offers outstanding value...
Delivers Honda durability, quality and reliability...
And addresses our commitment to safety and the environment.
It's the first pickup truck to achieve 50-state ULEV emissions, along with the highest fuel economy in the class. But make no mistake about it, this is a real truck.
It's not based on a car platform; and it's not just a Pilot with a bed. The Ridgeline is built on a new type of truck platform with a 93-percent exclusive frame.
And Ridgeline delivers something else as well - synergy with our other Honda products.
Well over five million households own a Honda motorcycle, ATV, marine product or Honda power equipment.
And this truck is designed to complement those products.
You saw in the video the cargo hooks, the motorcycle tire indents... and the super-strong bed and tailgate construction.
The Ridgeline can haul two of Honda's largest off-road motorcycles or a full-size ATV.
And this truck has a few other tricks up its sleeve.
Start with the Ridgeline's dual-action tailgate.
(DEMO) Naturally, it swings down like a typical truck tailgate.
Plus, it's got a 300-pound dynamic load rating making it one of the strongest in the industry.
But there's more - the tailgate also opens to the side to allow easier loading and unloading of cargo and loose materials like mulch or gravel.
It's got a convertible second row seat big enough to hold a full-size mountain bike.
That's a lot of capabilities and innovation packed into one truck. But
that's not all.
The Ridgeline answers one of the biggest complaints we hear about today's pickup trucks -- not enough secure storage space. So we came up with a new feature that we think will turn the truck market on its ear...the industry's first In-Bed Trunk.That's right, the Ridgeline is the first truck with a trunk.
(DEMO) Located beneath the bed floor, we've got a large storage compartment with more than 8.5 cu.-ft. of safe, secure, weather-tight storage.
It's big enough to hold a 72-quart stadium cooler, three golf bags, or whatever gear the buyer needs to stow away.
Load your gear, close the lid and you still have full functionality of the pickup bed. Or fill it with ice and it's ready for tailgating. And don't worry, there's a drain plug too.
It's the kind of innovative thinking that people have come to expect from Honda...The Ridgeline goes on sale this March as a 2006 model. Production has already started at our plant just up the road in Alliston, Ontario.
Now, those guys you saw loading the trunk, weren't stage actors. They are members of the team from Honda R&D Ohio who developed this truck.
Let me introduce them quickly, Ken Lantz, Kevin Thelen, and Jim Keller...and with them here today is Gary Flint, the chief development engineer for this vehicle. Let's give them a hand for the great job they've done with this vehicle. (PAUSE)
Along with the design team in Los Angeles, these guys have followed our dream and delivered what we think is a truly revolutionary new truck.
But don't take our word for it, come on up and see for yourself.