Hints at New Pickup
Rumors continued to swirl ever more furiously in Detroit about a new mid
or full-size pickup truck coming from Honda. It is expected to bow next
January at the 2002 North American International Auto Show.
the opportunity to speak with Honda's Dan Bonawitz, VP of Automobile Corporate
Planning and Logistics, to see what might be revealed about a potential
statements are right in line with the growing truck lineup at Honda. He
stated that Honda is very aware of the growing percentage of trucks in
the marketplace, which were over 50% of all automobiles sold in 2001.
Honda is striving to address this market by adding new trucks to their
own lineup that had not been part of the Honda family before.
In 1995 Honda
sold less than 5,000 trucks in the US. By the end of 2002, Bonawitz says
that Honda expects to sell over 300,000 units.
truck to sell significant numbers in Honda's inventory was the Honda CR-V,
a compact sport utility vehicle competing against Toyota's RAV4 and Ford's
Escape. The CR-V is redesigned for 2002. Next came the extremely popular
and critically well-received Honda Odyssey minivan. From the Odyssey chassis
was spawned Acura's MDX, Honda's luxury division's own mid-size SUV, and
the brand new 2003 Honda Pilot midsize SUV, first shown at this year's
pickup trucks, Bonawitz told us that Honda realizes full size pickup trucks
sell in significant number and that the pickup truck market overall is
quickly evolving with the introduction of brand new crew cabs and other
features not found previously in these trucks.
comments also shed some light on possible innovations in the pickup truck
marketplace that Honda might bring to the party.
are all built using body-on-frame construction while Honda uses nontraditional
unibody production methods in its SUV and minivan truck lines. The advantages
of a unibody design are lighter-weight and lower manufacturing costs though
it does have some weakness when it comes to off-road use. Honda's current
SUVs aren't meant for heavy 4x4 trips but are positioned to appeal to
families looking for a capable people hauler with the looks of a truck.
We also asked
Bonawitz about the engine swapping agreement between General Motors and
Honda. The alliance only covers whole engine swaps and not engine technology
transfers. Honda VTEC engines may wind up in certain GM cars while Isuzu
Motors would supply Honda with certain members of its diesel engine family.
GM owns a large percentage of Isuzu stock. No Vortec engines would be
provided, specifically the 5.3-liter Vortec 5300, as has been rumored
for a Honda pickup.
and Honda won't confirm or deny that a pickup truck is being developed,
his comments do help flesh out our ideas on what the truck might be.
PUTC is expecting
a midsize, unibody pickup truck to debut in Detroit at the 2003 North
American International Auto Show sporting all-wheel drive and a Honda
did add one final comment. "Stay tuned."