Remarks for Ed Cohen

12/7/2004 6:15:52 PM

Remarks for Ed Cohen
Union of Concerned Scientists Award
December 7, 2004
National Press Club

Thank you, Kathleen and David. And good morning ladies and gentlemen. We are pleased to receive this award today from the Union of Concerned Scientists ... which recognizes Honda's leadership in the area of environmental performance.

I want to begin by thanking everyone at UCS for their commitment. We don't agree on every issue. But we do share a commitment concerning the importance of the environment ... we agree that the performance of motor vehicles must improve ... and we both believe in bringing a "can do" spirit to this challenge.

Importantly, I also want to thank UCS for the way it has conducted this study ... which fairly measures the impact of motor vehicles on the environment based on the breadth and depth of what we do -- analyzing fleet average air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. It is based on real world efforts, not commitments. And using government test data ensures the integrity of the results.

It is significant that in this year's analysis our margin of leadership is actually greater than in the last UCS report. This is not due to inaction by our competitors - some of them have made great improvements. Rather, this achievement is born out of our commitment to conduct original research and our determination to apply the new technologies that result.

This is actually the third time Honda has earned the top award from UCS. But it's the first time we have been here to receive it. And there is a reason for that. We don't advance environmental technology to win awards ... nor do we do it simply to meet regulations. A true passion for environmental challenges is something that is woven into the fabric of our company. As a result, fuel efficiency and low emissions ... are starting points for our products ... not add-on considerations.

Our mission is to make products that satisfy our customers. And we believe we can make products that advance environmental needs ... and offer high levels of safety ... yet are fun-to-drive ... and meet our customers' needs for performance and utility. And we have consistently demonstrated this to be an achievable goal.

An important aspect of the UCS analysis ... is how it refutes the argument that Honda vehicles are more efficient simply because they are smaller. Honda vehicles are consistently at or near the top of each vehicle class. Our record of environmental performance is not reserved for a single technology or vehicle. We offer the widest possible application of environmental technologies ... across all product segments ... at all price points ... and at all performance levels.

We believe the "environmental challenge" requires three different, yet concurrent strategies. This means focusing on emissions reduction and improving energy efficiency with conventional engine technology ... while developing alternative fuel technologies to achieve energy sustainability.

The award we receive today is based on the 2003 model year ... when more than 50% of our vehicles met Tier 2 bin 5 emission standards - a full two years ahead of the Federal phase-in. But we have continued to introduce this technology ... and for our '04 model year lineup, more than 60% of our vehicles met Tier 2 bin 5. And this is versus EPA's requirement of 25%.

I recall in 1997, we introduced the very first gasoline Ultra Low Emission Vehicle in America. Significantly, it was on a family car, the Accord. At that time, many of the auto enthusiast media had concerns that low emission regulations might have a negative impact on high performance vehicles. But from that first ULEV Accord, they discovered emissions requirements don't compromise performance if the technologies are integrated into the design of the vehicle. This was an important step in gaining customer acceptance.

Regarding fuel efficiency ... Honda has developed and widely applied technologies that experts now recommend be adopted by other companies. I refer to things like Honda's VTEC variable valve timing technology ... the fact that virtually every Honda engine has 4 valves per cylinder ... that the majority of our automatic transmissions use 5 speeds, instead of four.
And ... this year ... we have taken another step with our first application of cylinder deactivation technology. These engines operate on all 6 Cylinders when accelerating. But when cruising on the highway, they automatically cut 3 cylinders to achieve higher fuel economy.

Of course, our efforts to advance fuel economy include our introduction of America's first gas-electric hybrid car. And, this week, we will become the first company to offer three different hybrid vehicles ... with the introduction of the Accord Hybrid ... the industry's first V-6 hybrid.

But we believe there is still significant potential to improve the fuel efficiency of gas powered vehicles. Toward that end, Honda recently established a new engine research facility in Japan - dedicated to advancing the fuel efficiency of the internal combustion engine even more in the future.

Finally ... we are developing technologies that have the best potential as alternatives to petroleum. Our natural gas Civic has achieved near zero emission vehicle status. And Honda remains the only automaker to gain EPA and CARB certification for a fuel cell vehicle. We now have 14 fuel cell vehicles in use in California and New York - now with the ability to start in sub-zero weather.

But the auto industry and governments of the world face many challenges over many years before customers can walk into a dealership and buy a car like the Honda FCX. One of the biggest challenges is the creation of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure. And I am really proud to say Honda is also a leader in this effort.
We opened a unique solar powered hydrogen fuel station at Honda R&D in southern California. And ... now ... with our partner, Plug Power, the development of a new, compact, Home Energy Station represents another significant advance.

At Honda, we are committed to these advanced, alternative power technologies ... even as we continue the development of more efficient internal combustion vehicles, including hybrid power.

As we work toward these different technologies ... all pointing in the same direction ... we are pleased to be recognized for these efforts by the Union of Concerned Scientists. And, again, we thank them for this honor. Thank you.