Released: September 11, 2007
Good afternoon everyone. It is great to be in Frankfurt again. I have often come to Frankfurt in the past to explain how we plan to strengthen our brand in Europe for the future. Now, I am happy to talk about how those plans are paying dividends today.
Powered by the all-new CR-V and Civic, our sales growth in Europe is outpacing all other major automakers this year. These two models have a clear focus on the Honda brand values of innovation ... environmental responsibility ... safety ... and fun-to-drive. We are also pleased that sales of the Civic Hybrid are currently three times the level of a year ago.
At the Geneva Motor Show, I announced a sales plan for Europe of 350,000 units. However, we have now increased our 2007 sales plan to 370,000 units. That would represent a 20 percent increase over last year.
To support this plan ... our UK plant is on track to reach its full rate of annual production capacity-totalling 250,000 units-by the end of this year ... with additional employment of 800 associates. And our plant in Turkey will soon increase capacity to 50,000 units, for a total capacity of 300,000-units in Europe.
There are several reasons for our success. But I believe a major factor is that our customers realize that Honda has always approached the environmental challenge with a positive, can-do spirit. More than three decades ago ... Honda launched a clean-burning, fuel efficient engine that made history by meeting the world's toughest emissions standard.
We have continued to build on this leadership ... as the first company to launch a petrol-electric hybrid automobile in Europe back in 1999. And we will strengthen our hybrid model line-up with the introduction of an affordable, all-new dedicated hybrid model, in 2009.
We also have continued to advance our leading fuel cell technology. I was happy to hear that the FCX Concept proved its advanced driving feel to a number of European journalists in Sweden in June. Honda plans to begin sales of a next generation fuel cell vehicle based on this FCX Concept model in 2008, beginning with the U.S. market.
Of course ... another key environmental technology is clean diesel. Today, we are announcing that the name for Honda's innovative new diesel technology will be i-DTEC. This new diesel engine series will offer a high level of power and torque ... yet with superior fuel efficiency and quiet operation.
Today, to help demonstrate our continued progress we have two i-DTEC engines on display. One engine is capable of complying with the proposed Euro5 exhaust standard. This version of the i-DTEC will be introduced in 2008, on the all-new Accord series for Europe ... prior to the enforcement of the regulations.
The other i-DTEC engine complies with the U.S. EPA Tier II Bin 5 emissions standard -- through a unique NOx-reducing catalytic converter. It does not require a tank of Urea onboard the vehicle to meet the regulation, allowing for a more compact solution to detoxify nitrogen oxide.
With this catalytic converter, the i-DTEC engine series is capable of exceeding the proposed Euro6 regulation ... and we will consider introducing this engine with the catalytic converter in Europe in addition to the U.S. and Japan.
Now ... our primary focus today at the Show is the "Accord Tourer Concept".
The Accord is one of Honda's core global models. It is currently sold in more than 160 countries, with cumulative global sales of almost 16 million units since its launch in 1976.
For the all-new, next-generation Accord for Europe we have focused on two key areas ... more emotional design and performance ... and more intelligent environmental and safety technologies.
Just as one example, the diesel version of the new Accord will feature the i-DTEC engine, I just described. This should make it one of the first models to meet the new Euro5 regulation.
Both the all-new Accord and Accord Tourer estate car will go on sale in the first half of 2008.
And, today, we provide you with a first look at the design of the "Accord Tourer Concept." This is the design direction of the new model. And we will show you the production version of both the Accord Tourer ... and the emotional new Sedan model ... in Geneva in 2008!
Honda is already reaching a record number of new customers. We believe the new Accord lineup will continue our strong momentum in Europe. Thank you for joining Honda ... and enjoy your day at the show.