Released: February 28, 2006
Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today.
The European market is a challenging one for Honda. And that is precisely why I enjoy coming here each year. It is part of Honda's corporate culture to seek out new challenges. And in Europe ... the home of Formula One racing ... and the place where sporty products are the customer's basic expectation ... we have many fun challenges.
Today, I want to talk about the progress we are making in these areas. First, our sales in Europe. Last year, Honda's auto sales increased almost 12% .... thanks to models like the Jazz and new diesel line-up... while industry sales remained flat. This is the second successive year that Honda achieved record sales in Europe.
This growth represents one thing -- our strong determination to succeed in Europe. We have accepted this challenge. And we will continue to focus on creating new value for our customers in Europe. There can be no other path to success.
One example of this "new value" for our customers is the all-new European Civic. The 5-door concept unveiled here last year received an overwhelming response. And the new model ... with its emotional design ... "hidden versatility" ... and fun-to-drive performance ... has been very well accepted by our customers because of these new values. It is a very promising start for Civic.
The Civic Hybrid is another example. With worldwide cumulative sales of more than 130,000 hybrid vehicles, Honda's hybrid technology has demonstrated its value in mainstream products. Now, the new Honda hybrid system has made the Civic Hybrid even more fuel-efficient and "fun-to-drive" ... creating new value with the best balance of packaging, fuel-consumption, and driving performance.
The all-new Legend ... that will go on sale this summer ... is another example of creating new value for the customer. We are introducing a number of advanced technologies ahead of the times. This includes Super Handling All-wheel Drive technology ... a Collision Mitigation Brake System ... and an industry-leading pop-up hood for pedestrian safety. I hope you will take time to try these technologies with our Advanced Technology Simulators at the Honda booth.
Of course, when we talk about creating new value ... we are also focused on the future. One of the best examples of our advanced future technology is the FCX, the industry's most advanced fuel cell vehicle. The FCX is unique in its ability to start and operate in sub-zero temperatures. We proved the capabilities here in Geneva last year, through actual test drives taken by many of you. And, in the U.S., an individual customer is now driving the FCX for every day use.
Today, we display the FCX Concept model ... which is very close to the next generation fuel cell vehicle we will introduce in 3 to 4 years. But to fully achieve new value in this area ... Honda has made a commitment to help create the infrastructure needed to fuel these vehicles in the future. Our Home Energy Station provides customers with the possibility of a totally new way of refueling. With this device, customers can fuel their FCX at home ... while also generating enough hydrogen from natural gas to provide power and hot water for the home.
I began today by talking about the fun challenges we face in Europe with F1 racing and creating sporty, fun-to-drive cars for our customers. What better way for me to finish ... than to combine these two challenges into one. Racing is part of Honda's DNA. And this year, the new-born Honda Racing F1 Team will begin a new challenge for victory. I believe strongly that we will stand atop the podium this year.
But we also want our customers to feel like they stand atop the winner's podium. So, today I am excited to introduce the Civic Type R Concept ... born with Honda racing DNA ... and sure to appeal to customers who want more of Honda's emotional driving characteristics. With a lower and wider design ... and a 2-litre engine that produces 200PS ... the Civic Type R Concept will bring out the race driver in anyone. So ... today ... we decided to ask a race driver to help us introduce this exciting model.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Jenson Button!
Thank you, Jenson, and thank you everyone for joining us again this year.