Dog-friendly Honda Element Concept Transforms SUV into Pet-hauling Champ
|TORRANCE, Calif., U.S.A., April 8, 2009 - New dog-friendly transportation concepts designed for the Honda Element add canine-specific enhancements to one of the most dog-friendly vehicles available, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced at the New York International Auto Show.
Developed specifically for the Element, the Dog Friendly™ components demonstrate the potential for a dedicated pet restraint system designed to meet the needs of dog owners. A finalized version of the Dog Friendly Element is scheduled to debut this fall. Major components will likely include:
"In an interesting turn of events, cars are now chasing dogs," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "Factory integration of a cushioned pet bed, restraint systems and other components is intended to transform the Element into the ultimate dog car."
The Dog Friendly equipment, engineered specifically for the Element, is designed to accommodate the transportation of dogs in the second-row passenger seats or in the cargo area. The restraint system concepts were designed and fabricated by Takata Corporation, one of the world's leading automotive safety systems suppliers, exclusively for display on the Dog Friendly Honda Element concept vehicle. The restraint concepts are intended to complement the potential of the vehicle's existing restraint systems by helping to protect the dog and helping to prevent injuries to other vehicle occupants due to an unrestrained dog impacting them in a collision. For convenience, a ramp is included to help dogs access the rear cargo area. The ramp stores underneath the bed platform and can be conveniently accessed when the rear tailgate is down.
"In-vehicle pet restraints should be part of every dog owner's safe travel practices," said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "The expanded availability of manufacturer-based restraints and features can help elevate pet comfort and convenience for owners. Good ventilation and access to water on longer trips should also be primary concerns."
The Element has long been recognized for its dog-friendly interior with an easy-to-clean urethane floor and expansive, flat cargo area (up to 74.6 cu-ft. with rear seats removed), wide-opening side cargo doors, low lift-in height, and accommodating dimensions for tall items. The consumer pet travel advice Web site, Dogcars.com, honored the 2007 Honda Element with its first-ever "Dog Car of the Year" award.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Inc., 39 percent of all households own at least one dog with an estimated total U.S. dog population of 74.8 million. All pet purchases and related products and services comprise an estimated total market value of more than $43 billion (2008 est.).
Substantially restyled for the 2009 model year and available with new features, the Honda Element builds on its spacious and versatile SUV character with a more chiseled exterior appearance and a refreshed interior design. Three unique Element styles are available that range from the rugged and simple Element LX, to the more refined Element EX, to the sporty Element SC.
Powered by a 2.4-liter i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine, the Element is available with either a 5-speed manual transmission (standard) or an available 5-speed automatic transmission. Available Real Time 4WD™ can enhance all-weather traction. The interior provides seating for up to four people along with a cargo area that adapts to large items with its flip-up rear seats that fold flat, fold up and to the side, or can be removed altogether (64-plus seating arrangements). The Element EX has a water resistant urethane-coated utility floor that wipes down for ease-of-cleaning and seat fabric that resists moisture.
For 2009, all Elements incorporate significant exterior styling changes that include new front grille and bumper designs, restyled front fenders (now metal, previously composite material), a new hood design, squared wheel arches, and new headlight and taillight configurations. Interior enhancements include revised dashboard color combinations with titanium-look side linings, new fabric patterns, and enhanced switchgear designs and instrument panel meter graphics. The Element EX exclusively adds a new convertible center console with a removable cooler/storage box.