Released: March 4, 2008
Good morning everyone. It is great to be with you again.
Spring is approaching ... which always provides a feeling of optimism for the Geneva Motor Show. Fortunately, for Honda, we don't need a change in seasons to provide a positive outlook. Our 2007 sales in Europe totalled about 376-thousand units ... that's a sixth consecutive annual sales record. Helping fuel this record was the fact that we also set an all-time record for production in Europe.
This success was driven by a focus on creating new value through key models such as Civic and CR-V. This year, we plan to continue this momentum, by launching an all-new Jazz ... as well as the all-new Accord. Based on this enhanced lineup, we are forecasting 2008 sales at 420-thousand units ... up 11% over last year's record.
Importantly, as we increase sales, we also increase our environmental commitment. Since the early 1970s, Honda has been ahead of the times in developing environmental technologies. Recent examples include Honda's all-new i-DTEC diesel engine that meets challenging Euro emissions standards. We introduced our first hybrid model in 1999. And with the increasing importance of reducing CO2 emissions, we have continued to advance Honda's original hybrid technology. In addition to the Civic Hybrid, we already announced plans to introduce a new dedicated hybrid model in 2009 in Japan, the U.S. and Europe. This new hybrid will achieve high fuel efficiency ... at a more affordable price.
At the same time, in addition to excellent environmental performance, we think it's important to provide the essential "fun-to-drive" spirit of an automobile. One year ago ... right here in Geneva ... we showcased the Honda Small Hybrid Sports Concept. As a next step, we are now working on the development of a model based on this next-generation CR-Z Hybrid Sports model ... with both excellent environmental performance and a fun-to-drive spirit. Together with the dedicated hybrid model I mentioned earlier ... I hope you will keep your expectations high for these vehicles ... and we will challenge to meet them!
Fuel-cell vehicle technology is another key component of Honda's environmental commitment. Last year, many European journalists test drove the FCX Concept, next-generation fuel cell vehicle ... and I want to thank them for their very positive response. Then ... last November we introduced FCX Clarity ... our all-new fuel cell vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show. FCX Clarity, appearing for the first time in Europe today, is the next step toward our goal to offer advanced fuel cell vehicles to the mass market. FCX Clarity will begin lease sales in the U.S. this summer and in Japan this autumn.
Now, to continue our sales success in Europe ... the all-new Accord will step to the stage. Along with Civic, Accord is a core model with a long history in the Honda lineup. It is truly a global model ... with global sales of 16 million units since it was introduced in 1976.
Last year at Frankfurt, we introduced the new design direction with the Accord Tourer Concept. And today, we are introducing the eighth generation all-new European Accord. Both the Saloon and Tourer models offer dynamic and sporty design ... along with the sophisticated driving performance found in premium class vehicles.
This all-new Accord lineup is powered by three engine types ... 2.0- and 2.4-liter petrol engines ... and an all-new 2.2-liter i-DTEC diesel engine ... that will be applied in mass production for the first time. These engines offer both outstanding power and excellent environmental performance meeting Euro 5 emission regulations that take effect next year.
Further, we have applied Advanced Driving Assistance technologies ... including Honda's Collision Mitigation Brake System, Adaptive Cruise Control and a Lane Keeping Assist System.
By enhancing the appeal of Accord, Honda will challenge to establish a strong position in the premium D segment ... where there are already a number of strong competitors. We plan to begin sales in June of the all-new Accord Saloon and Tourer models.
Today, at this first opportunity for you to see this vehicle, I hope you can feel a sophisticated and premium image unique to Honda ... that we strived to bring to the all-new Accord. Please take a close look. And thank you very much for joining us today.