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Old 03 Oct 2008, 12:00 am
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Default 2003 Honda Element -- Overview and Concept Development

Torrance, Calif. - Aug 26 —

Rugged, basic, accommodating: the 2003 Honda Element
delivers
maximum utility in an affordable package.

The 2003 Honda Element accommodates a new generation
of vehicle
buyer who seeks room for bulky items like big sports gear but
doesn't
want a pickup truck or a large, expensive SUV. Wrapped in a
compact
and durable exterior, Element devours cargo like a champ while
offering Honda's legendary levels of refinement, value, economy
and
performance. Element's packaging makes it road trip capable,
campground friendly and adaptable to people on the move -
whether
it's from apartment to ocean, mountain to dorm, or somewhere
in-between.

The Element breaks new ground with its:






Expansive interior cargo area - It adapts to haul items
like a surfboard (up to 10 ft.) or mountain bikes, or
anything else requiring something with more room than a
car.

Versatile seating - The removable flip-up rear seats fold
down into a bed, or fold up and out of the way to the side,
or can be removed altogether (64+ seating
arrangements).

Side cargo doors - Open the doors and gear easily loads
from
the vehicle's sides, plus it creates a unique hangout zone
when parked as a "base camp".

Tough, durable interior - The hard, flat, scratch resistant
urethane-coated utility floor quickly wipes down and the
seat fabric is waterproof.

Functional rear tailgate - The lower tailgate door folds
down to create a place to sit and makes loading easy while
the upper section provides shade and protection from the
weather.

Performance - Honda's 160-horsepower 2.4-liter i-VTEC
4-cylinder engine delivers generous acceleration, available
Real Time 4WD™ adds traction, and large wheels and
tires
keep Element firmly planted in a wide variety of conditions.

Models are available in 2WD and 4WD versions with either
automatic
or manual transmissions, and in either bone stock or fully
loaded
configurations. The Element is anticipated to meet the highest
collision safety standards achievable (five stars) for front and
side
impacts. It uses the latest engine technology to achieve low
emissions and good fuel economy. Unlike anything else on the
market,
the 2003 Honda Element defines its own spot in the entry-level
corner
of the light truck segment.

Model X Concept Background

Development began back in 1998 by a group of young designers
and
engineers from Honda's U.S. research and design group,
Honda R&D
Americas. The team set out to create a vehicle that offers the
utility that young, active people seek but can't quite get in a
pickup truck, a large SUV or other vehicle. Research consisted of
formal and informal studies at college campuses, beaches,
state
parks, mountain bike meccas, campgrounds and extreme
sports events.
They found the target Element buyer wants SUV-size interior
proportions, a flat pickup truck style floor, flexible seating, a
rugged exterior, lots of power, good fuel economy and an
affordable
price. The vehicles they drove always delivered in one or some of
those areas, but none provided a well-rounded package with all
of
these features. The American-based Honda design team went
to work and
created the Model X concept vehicle that debuted at the 2001
North
American International Auto Show in Detroit. The popular
concept
vehicle became the platform for Element, with the final
production
version delivering closely on the Model X concept.

Market

Public interest for the Model X concept reached high levels on
the
auto show circuit. It earned a fast track into production for the
2003 model year, just in time to greet a rapidly emerging
generation
of new vehicle buyers between the ages of 16 and 24 (the upper
spectrum of Generation Y). In 1995, the 16- to 24-year-old
demographic accounted for sales of roughly 100,000 units in the
U.S.
By 2001, sales grew to roughly 850,000 units and by 2010, Gen
Y is
expected to account for one-fifth of the car buying public,
eventually equaling the buying power of the baby boomer
generation.
Research indicates that 60 percent of current first time new car
buyers are 29-years-old or younger. While Element is designed
with
"Gen Y" in mind and based on the generation's unique vehicle
wants,
it's expected to appeal more to a frame-of-mind rather than an
age
group.

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