Honda Automobiles: 2012 Civic Concept Introduction Press Conference Remarks by John Mendel, Executive Vice President, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.


John Mendel:
Hello everyone! And thank you for joining us this afternoon.

Its great to be in Detroit for a show that exudes the excitement and energy that promises continued momentum for our industry.

Today, we’re here to talk about how we plan to build on our own strong momentum … particularly our role as the home of fun, stylish and affordable vehicles that offer tremendous value to a broad range of customers … especially younger buyers.

Let me begin with a quick look back at 2010 … where we saw an increase of more than 7.6 percent to 1.23 million Honda and Acura vehicles for the year. This is even more significant when you consider that we did it one customer at a time. In fact, we continue to be virtually the only full-line manufacturer to increase sales without bulking up on fleet sales.

We’ll continue this strategy in 2011, growing sales for both the Honda and Acura brands. And our local production … 87 per cent of sales … will continue to serve as an advantage.

We spent a lot of effort the past year on building momentum for the Acura brand. And as we approach the 25th anniversary of Acura in March, these efforts will pay huge dividends. Acura sales have posted double-digit increases for 11 consecutive months now … …and were up more than 27 percent in 2010. You can expect double digit growth again this year … because we have some more excitement in store for the Acura brand later this spring.

But today, we’re here to talk about the Honda brand … having come off a very strong finish last year … with the successful launch of both the Odyssey and CR-Z. In its first three months of production at our plant in Alabama, sales of the completely redesigned Odyssey have increased by 30 percent from prior year.

And we just learned, Odyssey … completely developed by our RD team in Ohio … earned 5-stars in each seating position of all three crash tests in NHTSA’s new NCAP test program … as well as for the overall rating. That’s not just a first in the minivan category … we believe its a first for the entire industry.

Further, sales of the sporty and stylish CR-Z are also exceeding our expectations with sales of more than 5-thousand vehicles in the first four months. It’s great to see our customers embrace this vehicle … and our effort to push hybrid technology in a sporty direction.

Today, we’re showcasing another vehicle that we’ve designed with an eye on the young at heart. But styling a vehicle like Civic … with an almost 40-year history of staying ahead of the times … is a different kind of challenge.

First of all, Civic has an incredible legacy … consistently one of the industry’s most popular and trend-setting vehicles. Along the way, it earned the trust of our customers … as the most trouble-free car in its class.

Significantly, Civic is a car for all people … attracting buyers from all demographics … from the greatest generation … to Generation Y. This is something Civic has always accomplished by remaining forward-looking and focused on the needs of customers … with outstanding fuel economy and affordability even for first-time buyers … and without compromising the joy of driving. In fact … more than 30 percent of Civic customers are under the age of 35 … that’s more than 90 -thousand young buyers each year. Civic plays a critical role for the Honda brand.

Significantly, for the all-new 2012 model, we’re not changing the market position established by the current model … at the front of the line in the compact segment. But we have strived to more clearly express all that Civic represents to our customers in order to maximize customer value and increase our competitive advantage. More than ever, the all-new Civic will fulfill the needs of virtually every compact car buyer.

We’re very excited today, to debut two concept versions of our next generation Civic that will go on sale in just a few short months. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2012 Civic Coupe and Sedan Concepts.

These concept versions of the ninth generation Honda Civic build on the current model’s signature one-motion, mono-form design with more expressive body lines. This complete redesign offers a bolder, more energetic and sleek appearance. Yet our focus continues to be on timeless and enduring design… where form follows function. This philosophy is why Civic has always been well-accepted by our customers.

The new Civic will be more compact outside… but with best in class cabin space … a more sporty and fun to drive spirit … and more fuel efficient at every level.

While we’re only showing the exterior styling here today, we promise that the new Civic lineup will offer the features, functionality and style that will enable every customer to better personalize and customize a Civic to match their own lifestyle.

What’s already the most robust compact car lineup in the industry with sedan, coupe, hybrid, natural gas and both sporty Si sedan and coupe models… will grow a bit more for 2012. Further, the next gen Civic will offer three different powertrains. This includes 40 mpg within our gasoline engine lineup, the natural gas powered Civic GX and the new Civic Hybrid with the first-ever application of a lithium-ion battery technology in one of our hybrid vehicles.

In addition to the standard fuel economy ratings, most Civic gasoline models also will feature Honda Eco-Assist technology that has already proven to help less-efficient drivers achieve higher fuel economy.

Significantly, we will continue to offer the industry’s only natural-gas powered passenger car assembled right here in America … in our plant in Greensburg, Indiana. There’s a lot of talk about advanced technologies for the environment … well … the Civic GX is darn near zero emissions like an electric car. And it’s here now … in fact, we’ve had it in the Civic lineup since 1998. Further, natural gas is a fuel in abundant supply in North America. And now, retail customers across the U.S. will be able to buy the GX as we expand sales from four states to nationwide.

Finally, Civic’s legacy of outstanding safety in the compact class will continue as the only compact car with the innovative Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure for frontal collision energy management. Of course, we’ll also have Vehicle Stability Assist as standard equipment on all models. Ten years ago, the 2001 Civic Coupe became the first compact car to achieve a 5-star, 5-star crash safety rating. The standards have changed, but we anticipate the CIVIC line up scoring well in both the NCAP and IIHS vehicle evaluations.

Together … all of these attributes create a vehicle that is not only clean, safe and fun … but an even greater value that targets the young at heart … of any generation.

Speaking of that … we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Civic Tour this year. For the uninitiated … this nationwide concert tour annually features one headlining band … with past years including the Black Eyed Peas, Incubus, Maroon 5, Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco … among other exciting acts.

Each year, the headliner group gives one Civic a custom paint job that one lucky fan gets to take home. We have a large online audience today that I know is wondering who the 2011 headliner will be this year. We’re excited about it … and you’ll know why when we make that announcement in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I’d like to invite a very special guest to the stage.

A lyricist, bassist and entrepreneur, who led Fall Out Boy to two multi-platinum albums. Today, he has a new band … Black Cards … and some exciting news to share for music lovers. Please welcome, Pete Wentz.

– Pete Wentz reveals The Sounds of Civic contest –

As you can see, there’s a lot to be excited about in this banner Civic year. And we can’t wait to get it started. Thank you again for your time … and stay tuned for more news from Honda in the days ahead.

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