For three days from November 9 to 11, 2012, Honda held a press conference, named “Honda Meeting 2012”, in Japan to announce new automobile technologies. At the conference, Honda unveiled a series of new technologies that will power the next generation of Honda automobiles, including three new hybrid systems for small, medium, and large-size vehicles and a new clean diesel engine. Prototypes equipped with the new technologies were brought to the conference for a test-driving event on a test course at the Automobile R&D Center in Tochigi, the conference venue.
The engines, transmissions, hybrid systems, and other powertrain technologies unveiled at the conference are not an extension of existing technologies but were all developed from the ground up. These innovative new technologies, developed to achieve unparalleled levels of fuel efficiency and driving performance together, in pursuit of the joy of driving experienced only in a Honda, are: Earth Dreams Technology.
Earth Dreams Technology is the next generation of Honda. The real mission of Environmental Documentary—Honda Face is not simply to talk about the mechanisms or specifications of these new technologies but to show readers the heart and passion that Honda engineers put into their work. That's why for this article we asked five key engineers to gather for an on-the-spot interview, inviting automotive journalist Yumi Kawabata, who test-drove the prototypes equipped with Earth Dreams Technology, to help us ask the best questions.
Yumi Kawabata, our interviewer this time, is a woman of many talents. Part automotive journalist, part environmental journalist, part engineer, if there is anyone who could pull the most interesting information out of these engineers for Face readers, she can. The interview started with her impression at Honda Meeting 2012.
Kawabata Thank you, everyone, for coming today. One thing I thought when test-driving at 2012 Honda Meeting the other day was, "Wow! All of these cars feel completely different. They're fun to drive—maybe even too fun!" Earth Dreams Technology is a set of environmental technologies, but all of the prototypes seemed to have been designed with an emphasis on the pleasure of driving. As a motor journalist, I just couldn't stop grinning. I went home really excited and thinking, "Honda is serious. Once those cars go on the market, some interesting things are going to happen." Today, it is my great pleasure to have the opportunity to ask you engineers all sorts of questions on behalf of the readers of Environmental Documentary—Honda Face. That said, let's begin the interview.
Kawabata Earth Dreams Technology. I'm still a little fuzzy about what that means and I think most of our readers are too. Mr. Ishibashi, you were involved in creating this name. Can you start by telling us what it means?
Ishibashi Basically, it is a general name for environmental technologies used in Honda automobiles. Honda created the environmental slogan, "Blue Skies for Our Children." Well, Earth Dreams Technologies are the automotive technologies that will help us realize the vision portrayed by this slogan. Specifically, it refers to new Honda powertrain technologies, which includes engines, transmissions, hybrids, electric vehicles (EV), and fuel-cell (FC) vehicles. Automotive power plants are in the middle of a revolution right now. No one knows what will happen next. Honda, meanwhile, is trying to develop technologies that never existed before, while also harnessing the full potential of technologies it has already developed. All of these new technologies are directed toward one aim—to create cars that are better for the environment and more fun to drive, both on a level that has never been achieved before. To express Honda's strong desire and determination to achieve this, we needed a new name.
When deciding a name, we first solicited ideas from associates inside the company. We received 300 submissions, but none of them did the trick. So we gathered young powertrain designers and researchers together and had them give us their best ideas. The word they all wanted to use was "dream." I thought the word was a bit too straight for the current young generation’s proposal, but it also made me realize that you can't separate the Honda brand from feelings of ambition and purpose. We eventually narrowed it down to a phrase summed up by one of our young associates: Earth Dreams Technology. I think having a name for environmental technologies that also talks about dreams or feelings is something unique about Honda. It also tells you that these power plants are number one in both environmental performance and driving pleasure. The name fits the technologies themselves, so that's what we went with.
Kawabata It's also important to create a work environment where people can dream, especially in this day and age when it's so hard to dream. So I expect naming these technologies something that will allow young associates to dream about the future helps boost motivation inside the company.
Ishibashi There's actually an interesting story to go with that.
Like I said before, when I asked our young powertrain designers to come up with names using the word "dream," one of them said we have to use "earthdreams," which was used by Honda Racing F1 Team. When I asked him why, he said, "The new environmental technologies Honda is developing aren't just about good fuel economy. We should name them something that conveys Honda's strong passion to give customers dreams and excitement and fun. Earthdreams was used in F1 and there are a lot of associates who were involved in developing these powertrains through actual F1 work, so using 'earthdreams' means we are taking the passion we put into competition in F1 and putting it into the competition for better environmental technologies." I immediately understood what he was saying so I put his suggestion at the top of the list. What he was saying really resonated with me.
Kawabata Most F1 fans probably think of F1 when they hear Earth Dreams. So there was a connection to F1 after all.
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