Honda Element -- Overview and Concept DevelopmentRugged, 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 SÚV. 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. Únlike 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 Ú.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 SÚV 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 SÚV-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.
Source - Honda
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 Ú.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.