The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Honda Model X: Behind the CONCEPT

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Watch the entire introduction from Detroit Click here
    DETROIT, Jan. 9 When Honda R&D Americas was charged with
developing a new vehicle for young male buyers, it put together a team of
young associates and challenged them to come up with a vehicle they would like
to drive.  As a result, they developed a vehicle targeted at young, active

    Project leader Tim Benner and design project leader Eric Schumaker
approached Model X as a vehicle built for people with active lifestyles who
were interested in sports and doing things with their friends.  They headed a
Model X development team that were mostly in their early twenties and active
in a variety of sports.  Members of the team surfed, rode mountain bikes, went
rock climbing, kayaking and much more.

    As a result, the Model X concept vehicle focuses on lifestyles and
activities.  Versatility and functionality are top priorities.  Model X's
design caters to a buyer who wants a vehicle that can handle sports and
camping equipment with rugged ease while maintaining a high level of style and
everyday functionality.

    After coming up with the idea for Model X, members of the development team
set out to test the concept with target buyers.  They went to the inaugural
1998 X Games in San Diego.  They visited college campuses across the country.
They went to fraternity houses and dorm rooms and asked students what they
wanted and needed in a vehicle.  They visited surf beaches in Southern
California.  They went camping and mountain biking.  And after an initial
concept was developed, they went back for additional feedback.  Focus group
participants were also recruited on location.

    The development team also took top R&D executives on a camping trip to the
beach in an effort to expose them to the target buyers and how they used their

    "An overnight camping trip to a surf beach was much more effective in
explaining and demonstrating the concept than a PowerPoint presentation would
have been," Benner said.  "That provided a real life target buyer experience."
    The end result is the Model X concept vehicle.  It lets users take their
gear where they want it, with the convenience of a large, flat storage area
much like a pickup.  Yet it has the enclosed security of an SUV.  Easy access
is provided by the absence of a B Pillar and side doors that swing open wide
from the center to allow bulky items to be loaded without obstruction.  The
rear tailgate folds down and the rear roofline slides forward, providing
additional loading ease.

    In some ways Model X is an apartment on wheels.  In other ways, it's an
activity support truck.  If the designers had to choose one word to describe
Model X, it would be "freedom."  It's for young guys on the go who work to
live; not live to work.