Honda Automobiles / Concepts
2010 Chicago Auto Show Remarks by Vicki Poponi, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., and Catalin Matei, Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
Vicki Poponi, Assistant Vice President of Product Planning
Good morning and thank you for joining us.
We're thrilled to be here with you in Chicago as we take our first important step toward the introduction of an all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey, the top-to-bottom redesign of America's best-selling minivan, about to enter its 4th generation, and will launch later this year.
The Odyssey is Honda's flagship vehicle for families, and over the years, it has continued to set new industry benchmarks through groundbreaking innovation by focusing on the real world needs of our customers.
If you'll pardon a pun, our Odyssey began with our first offering in the minivan segment in 1995 -- the first generation Odyssey.
Yes, we started out small, with a four-cylinder engine and four swinging doors, built on our mid-size sedan platform.
Odyssey quickly grew up, with its own light truck platform and a focus on American customers, so we added space and family function, V6 power, and new segment-leading innovations like Variable Cylinder Management to deliver better fuel efficiency as well as introducing the world to the 3rd row magic seat now ubiquitous in the minivan segment.
This Odyssey was also the first minivan to earn a government, five-star crash safety rating.
Along the way, Odyssey has earned high marks from our customers for its highly space-efficient and user-friendly design, its sophisticated appearance, inside and out, its class-leading safety and fuel economy, and something really unusual for a minivan, an engaging and fun-to-drive character.
With each new generation of Odyssey, we've built upon this strong foundation... making Odyssey the most popular choice for American families for the past two years, the benchmark of its class.
Importantly, today Odyssey has the youngest and most affluent buyers of any vehicle in the segment.
The premium choice for discerning minivan customers.
Today, we're ready to take the next step forward in the evolution of the Odyssey and the minivan, adding new functionality, greater fuel efficiency, and a dazzling new design for our loyal Odyssey customers and for people considering a change to something more practical, fuel-efficient and stylish for their family-oriented lives.
This new Odyssey is, most assuredly, about more than only delighting existing Odyssey and minivan owners.
With the growth and evolution of the crossover utility market, customers today have more choices than ever for a family vehicle.
Our own products, including the Pilot and new Accord Crosstour, speak to this continued evolution of the market.
Our research found that customers who require the passenger and
cargo-carrying capabilities of a larger vehicle fit into three general categories:
Those who embrace the minivan, those who outright reject it, and those who appreciate its practical value but remain somewhat on the fence due mainly to styling and image concerns.
We refer to this last category of customers as HESITATORS...and they're the people we really hope to add to the Honda family.
What you're about to see is the 2011 Odyssey CONCEPT, not the final production vehicle.
But I can tell you that it comes very close to the production vehicle in its shape, style and dimension.
I can also share a few other details about the new production Odyssey that is due to arrive later this year.
Ultimately, the best minivan in the market will get even better, with improved functionality and comfort, more space for people and cargo, advances to safety, even better driving dynamics, and improved aerodynamics for greater fuel efficiency.
But to understand how the Odyssey could even better support their lifestyles,
we talked extensively with our customers.
Of course, we always talk to our customers as part of the concept making for new products, and this Odyssey Concept truly reflects their input.
For instance, while they already view Odyssey as the best looking minivan,
they challenged us with the question "Can you give Odyssey more personality and make it more stylish?"
We believe the Concept we are debuting here today and the production model to follow delivers in spades on that request.
To tell you more about this new design is the exterior designer for the 2011 Odyssey from the Honda R&D Americas Design Center in Torrance, California... Catalin Matei.
Catalin Matei, Senior Designer of the 2011 Honda Odyssey
Thank you, Vicki.
And thanks to all of you for your time this morning.
It is a rare opportunity in Design to work on a vehicle from the very beginning as both the designer as well as the Exterior Styling Project Leader.
I have followed the new Odyssey all the way through to final styling design --
working closely with our engineers in Ohio, and many other R&D associates --
to complete the development for the production vehicle that will go on sale later this year.
So, I'm truly excited to introduce the concept version of a vehicle I've worked so closely on for the past several years, and as a father of three, and having been an Odyssey owner since 1995, I'm even more excited to introduce something that I can't wait to own myself.
Our objectives can be narrowed down to three basic words:
REDEFINE THE MINIVAN.
As Vicki touched on, common feedback that we received from our customers on the current generation Odyssey was that while top in its class, with GREAT FUNCTIONALITY, DRIVEABILITY AND PERFORMANCE it's still a bit too boxy and too generic in appearance - especially from a profile view.
THIS was our biggest challenge with redesigning the Odyssey - to create a new image without sacrificing utility.
And now here is the result of our efforts.
<2011 Odyssey Concept reveal>
Our goal as designers and engineers of this all-new Odyssey was to address our customers' desires without sacrificing but rather ENHANCING the qualities that have made Odyssey the benchmark in its class.
With the styling embodied in this Concept we are presenting you a dramatically more distinctive and dynamic Odyssey, separating it from other minivans and giving it more personality.
The overall styling direction is Sporty, Strong, Confident, and Athletic.
The new Odyssey is marked by an aerodynamic cab-forward body with tapered rear cabin, directional character lines and a genuinely athletic stance.
That means: lower height, wider body, better wheel-to-body proportions, strong shoulders and wheel flares.
To create the Odyssey's dynamic mono-volume shape, we moved the windshield touchdown point forward and changed the windshield rake.
Then we angled the "A" and "D" pillars and tapered the rear cabin to give the vehicle a sleeker look, separating it from the boxy image of current vans.
Also, we added rear and side spoilers to enhance the aerodynamics for improved fuel economy and reduced cabin noise.
One very evident design cue is this unique "lightning bolt" Belt-line and sporty side glass graphic that will make the new Odyssey easy to recognize from a distance.
But beyond its striking appearance, one of several examples of "form follows function", this line enables improved outward visibility for third-row passengers.
After all, we want the kids to be happy too!
But as you'll see in the days ahead, with this new Odyssey, kids won't be the only ones willing to jump into the 3rd row seats.
Even the best looking minivan isn't going to sell unless it has an equally stylish and functional interior.
This has always been Odyssey's strong suit and while I can't say too much today, I will promise you that we've seen the competition and this new Odyssey will take functionality to a new level.
What I can tell you is that there will be more interior space.
Here are a couple of our ideation sketches:
We made the interior wider and more spacious, the 2nd row now allows for three child seats.
We also increased headroom and legroom in the 3rd row, yet made the styling sleeker and tighter.
The design aims to be progressive, athletic and distinctive with a simple and clean motif.
All in all, we couldn't be more excited about this new Odyssey and the new value it will deliver to our customers in these challenging times - better functionality, better styling, and better fuel economy.
As the only representative of our U.S. Research and Development team speaking today, I want to say how proud we all are to work on this new American Odyssey.
Now, I'd like to invite Vicki back on stage for some additional details.
Thank you, Catalin.
The new Odyssey will launch later this year as a 2011 model with a full complement of advanced safety, comfort and convenience features and with a V6 to give our customers the power and performance that they need not only for fun, but to feel confident on the road.
And, to improve fuel economy, our Variable Cylinder Management system with 3, 4 and 6-cylinder modes will be standard on all models.
Catalin spoke about achieving a more aerodynamic shape -- another key part of our effort to improve fuel economy.
Our current Odyssey already achieves top-of-class fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway.
We expect to reinforce our fuel economy leadership with estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 in the city and 28 on the highway, once again, with a V6.
This new Odyssey is all about giving our customers the style, comfort, convenience, fun AND efficiency they expect from a Honda, with no sacrifices.
As you can see, we are calling this an American Odyssey and we do so for many reasons. Proud to have designed and engineered it entirely in the U.S. with our teams in California and Ohio, with our manufacturing team in Alabama, just as proud to be building it here as well.
But ultimately, it's an American Odyssey because this vehicle was created expressly for our customers in the U.S. by Honda associates like Catalin who understand precisely what American families need and want.
So, we are confident this new Concept will mean Honda's Odyssey will continue for years to come.
Thank you, and now we invite you all to come on up and take a closer look at the 2011 Honda Odyssey Concept.