Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
American Honda’s annual dealer business meeting kicked off Wednesday night in the Grand Garden Arena at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas with a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and the display of a giant American flag, and continued with tough talk of patriotism and industry leadership.
In opening remarks to assembled members of the press prior to the new model show, Honda’s Gary Christopher said that the company had polled many dealers prior to deciding to go ahead with the dealer convention. According to Christopher, “To a dealer, they said ‘We need this, please don’t cancel.'”
Christopher referred to remarks made by President George Bush urging the country to get back to business and carry on, to go forward and not allow external forces to bring the American way of life to a halt. “Business needs leadership in times like this,” Christopher said. “Honda has always played a leadership role in the motorcycle industry” and decided to continue with its dealer convention and its plans to move the industry forward.
About 80 percent of the country’s approximately 1200 Honda motorcycle dealers sent representatives to the Las Vegas convention, about 90 percent having originally sent in an RSVP and 110 dealers cancelling plans for attendance after RSVP forms were sent in.
In opening convention remarks, Honda Vice President Ray Blank called the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington a “senseless and horrific tragedy” and said “American Honda expresses heartfelt condolances and sympathy” to everyone affected by the attacks. Blank added that the company hoped that no-one misunderstood the holding of the convention to be a sign of disrespect, and that the company was continuing to move forward and going about its business because it was “standing up for what is right.”
That said, Blank then revealed that the company was introducing 15 new models for 2002, and he asked the rhetorical question, “Tell me, tell me, who besides Honda could do that?”
Leading Honda’s 2002 product line is the new CBR954RR, an updated 929 with a claimed 154 horsepower at 11,200 rpm and a 12,000-rpm redline, 42mm throttle bodies, a new frame, and a 370-pound claimed dry weight.
In other parts of the presentation it was revealed that Honda sales in 2001 versus 2000 were up 33% in the cruiser segment, 36% in the touring (Gold Wing) segment, 31% in the heavyweight sportbike (929) segment, 60% in the 600cc sportbike (CBR600F4i) segment (making the CBR600F4i the best selling sportbike in America), 41% in the enduro segment, 51% in the small dirtbike segment (making the XR100R the best-selling off-road motorcycle in America), 48% in 125cc motocross (CR125) and 25% in 250cc motocross (making the CR250R the best-selling motocrosser in America. Honda leads U.S. sales of motorcycles, ATVs and scooters.
Other 2002 models included an updated RC51 that weighs 8 pounds less and makes more power, a 919 naked Inline-4 street bike with flat black paint, a new small scooter, a new twin-cylinder Silver Wing large scooter, a turbo-charged 1200cc four-stroke personal watercraft, and an updated VFR800.
Highlights of the dealer show included Miguel Duhamel appearing in a Woody Woodpecker suit and Nicky Hayden and Kurtis Roberts riding motocross bikes around a miniature Supercross track built in the arena.
In other news, it was confirmed that Mike Hale is riding for the Honda-backed Erion road racing team in 2002, while Ricky Carmichael is joining the Honda motocross team in a moved that Carmichael said he did not make for money, but rather to get on the bikes and team he needed to have to realize his potential.
A transcript of remarks made by Honda executives follows:
2001 Honda Motorcycle Dealer Business Meeting
Wednesday, September 19, 2001
Comments from Honda Executives
I. Vice President of the Motorcycle Division, Mr. Ray Blank
Good evening everyone. I would like to begin by first thanking each and every one of you for attending tonight. I realize it may have been an inconvenience to get here, and we greatly appreciate your efforts.
While our gathering here is to conduct business and present to you our plans for the new year, we can not forget the events that took place in our country this past week.
The attack on the U.S. was a senseless and horrific tragedy. One that will forever scar this nation. And to that end, American Honda would like to take this moment to express our heartfelt sympathies and condolences and offer our prayers to those who lost loved ones, friends or co-workers last week.
Since the attack, President Bush has urged all Americans to rally together and show the strength of our resolve… by moving forward with our lives. Sending a message to our attackers that they cannot limit our freedom.
This week, much of America has done just that. The Stock Market is again active. Major League pro sports are back to a full schedule. And, at American Honda, we too are moving forward with all of you.
We hope no one sees this business meeting as a sign of disrespect. Rather, we hope that they see it as a company that follows some of the values that make our country great. Values that include respect for our country and standing up for what is right.
Thank you again for joining us tonight. And God Bless America.
Now, we would like to proceed with our business meeting.
(Comments preceding new model introductions)
As you can see, this year’s convention theme is POWERED. The Honda Way.
We believe POWERED perfectly describes what Honda is all about.
And, while POWERED can directly define some of the physical traits of our motorcycle products, things like horsepower or acceleration…it’s also a term that fuels our thought process in creating new and unique products. It’s using power to challenge our imagination, our visions…our dreams.
(Comments at the conclusion of business meeting)
You know, when you get down to it, it’s really all very simple. The future of the powersports industry is right here with Honda. Motorcycle, ATVs, scooters, watercraft, new categories yet to be invented.
For those of you who’ve been around for a while, you know what I mean. Nobody has the determination, power and resources to make it happen like we do. Over the past couple of years we did it with a string of great products along with comprehensive, aggressive promotions that brought the competition to its knees. We are the power of the industry. We know it, you know it, the competition knows it.
Speaking of our competitors, I know most of you have heard the big news about Suzuki and Kawasaki joining forces. Surprising, but it just reinforces what we are talking about here tonight. Everyone can see what’s going on in our industry. They can see that Honda is committed and on a mission. And everyone is scrambling to do what it takes to stay competitive with us.
And so, it should all be very simple for you out there.
The future for you is in becoming a brand dedicated Honda dealer. A level of dedication that we will be awarding the title of Powerhouse.
I am not saying anyone will receive less support as a multi-line dealer. However, I promise you that for those who are dedicated and committed to The Honda Way, they will reap the benefits of a company that is driven to success.
Through the year 2010, we have established extremely aggressive sales goals. To meet these goals, we will increase the sales capacity of each of our dealerships. Our plan is to channel the majority of those sales through exclusive Honda dealerships. You will want to be one of those exclusive dealers.
Over the next few year we are inviting you to come along and join in on those successes.
The choice is yours. And it is your decision.
Don’t be left behind.
II. Mr. Koichi Amemiya , President and CEO of American Honda Motor Company, and Executive Vice President of Honda Motor Limited
Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
These are difficult times in America, and I sincerely appreciate your coming to Las Vegas for this important meeting. I hope this meeting will provide value for your business and be worth the great effort you made to be here.
The disaster that struck this nation last week was a terrible moment for all Americans. But I want you to know that for every human being in the world this is an event we will never forget.
We know that many of our Honda dealers were touched in a very personal way by this tragedy. So, on behalf of the entire global Honda family, I offer my sympathy and respect to all of you — and to all of the victims and their families.
As Ray said, it is important that we go on with our business together.
Each of you makes an important and vital contribution to the economy of this nation. So, by continuing your efforts – no matter how difficult it may be – you are helping your community.
And I want to use this opportunity to talk with you about the pride and commitment we feel toward Honda’s motorcycle business.
The U.S. market has always been important to our motorcycle business.
The Honda Motor Company in Japan will soon mark its 54th anniversary. When Honda was founded, we were a local motorcycle company with a global view. And just the goal of selling our products here in America helped transform Honda.
Today, we are a global company, but with a local view. More than ever, our focus is on meeting the needs of the customer. And more than ever, our American customers and you American dealers continue to help transform our business.
When I joined Honda in 1963, American customers were helping change our product direction from one of basic transportation to a fun, new lifestyle.
It was the U.S. market — with the urging of you dealers — that provided Honda this opportunity to challenge new areas and new products to provide the customer with a higher level of value and performance.
We share your passion. And based on this shared commitment, I hope that together we can continue to think ahead and develop new dreams for our future.
The word “Dream” has always had special meaning for Honda. All of you know that the first motorcycle developed by Honda was named the “Dream.”
This year, we adopted a new global theme called “The power of dreams.” It is the first time we have used one theme on a global basis. Importantly, The power of dreams does not mean only thinking of new ideas. It means taking responsibility to make these ideas into reality.
Making dreams into reality is not easy. Without hard work, a real dream is difficult to achieve. But by working hard – even a challenging dream can come true.
Today, motorcycles remain the first means of sharing our dreams with the customer. On a global basis, we earn more than 5 million customers each year. But it is not the number that is important. What is significant is our strong commitment to provide our customers with the joy and pride of riding and owning a Honda.
Today, we have new dreams. Our business is evolving toward the “power sports” direction. That means not only new products — but new categories of products.
And when we say “performance first” this also means putting the environment first. We believe this is our responsibility. Introducing 4-stroke technology throughout the lineup and other new technologies will make our products more friendly to the environment even as we advance performance.
At Honda we often talk about the “challenging spirit,” and the will to succeed over difficult problems. And in our businesses and in society there will be no shortage of new obstacles to overcome in the future. But I hope each of you will have your own dream with Honda.
I hope you will dream of positive change and progress together. I hope you will dream of taking on new efforts and, with a challenging spirit, making your dreams come true.
That is the message behind “The power of dreams”. And that is the spirit of Honda.
And my best wishes to you all.
III. Mr. Takayuki Arima, Assistant to the President, American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
Good evening everyone. I would also like to thank you for making the effort to attend this meeting under these circumstances.
I am happy to say that Year 2 of our three-year plan has been even more successful than Year 1. And we’ve done it by staying true to three key principals that guide our company: performance, engineering and leadership.
This past year, we sped up our efforts in key areas to provide great new products in every category. And then, we supported those products with promotions that turned floor traffic into sales.
But of course, none of this success would have been possible without all of you. I thank you for your strong efforts.
Please look at some of the highlights in Year 2.
First, the largest motorcycle segment–cruisers. Honda leads this category with spectacular growth of 33%. Number One in the industry.
In the touring category — also Number One. The Gold Wing alone increased 36%.
Sportbikes show tremendous growth. With the help of our racing efforts, sales of the 929 increased 31% and the 600F4i an astonishing 60%… and not only were we #1 in the overall sportbike category, but the F4i was again America’s #1 selling sportbike model.
The off-road category is growing. In the enduro segment, Honda has increased 41%. We lead with a 53% market share — firmly Number One. The small XR models have shown huge growth as well up 51%. The XR100R is the best selling off-road bike in America.
In the motocross category, the CR125R was up 48% while the CR250R was up 25%…and was the best selling MX model in America. Again, we lead this category.
As for ATVs, we have stayed well ahead… and since we released the industry’s #1 selling sport ATV, the Sportrax 400EX, our stake of the sport ATV category has had an enormous gain of 49% — yet another number-one.
In every single category of motorcycles, ATVs and scooters — Honda is Number One.
Of course, to ensure this strong growth we will need to continue to promote safety awareness. It is a very important issue that affects us all, and is one that you must support throughout your business.
Being the leader also means being responsible to the environment. Four-stroke engines, instead of two-strokes for all of our products that operate on public roads. Exhaust and noise levels that meet or exceed regulations. And on the manufacturing end, we are also making changes. One example is the use of recyclable crates. This will soon result in virtually no material waste.
Finally, in an age when the internet is becoming more of a factor in business…we continue to see you, the dealer, as the most important link to our customers. It is a bond that can not be replaced.
To that end, we will be looking for new and better ways to support this relationship as we move into the future.
We are part of a winning team. We must work together to continue to grow. To lead the industry to new heights. And to pursue our mutual dreams…
This is the Honda Way.
Updated Post With Transcripts Of Remarks: Honda Dealer Meeting A Rousing Success In Las Vegas
© 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.