LOS ANGELES -- American Honda Motor Co. Inc. is taking bids on parts for a proposed compact sport-utility similar to the Ford Explorer SportTrac, according to supplier sources. The vehicle is expected to have four doors and a short bed.
Given the early status of the bids, the project most likely is a concept vehicle.
If approved, vehicle production would begin in about three years, an industry consultant said.
Dan Bonawitz, American Honda vice president of planning and logistics, did not deny that a sport-utility with a pickup bed was coming.
"We're working on all sorts of things," Bonawitz said.
He said Honda plans to unveil several concepts at the 2003 Detroit auto show.
Honda spokesman Art Garner said the company does not comment on future products.
A Honda source said the vehicle would not be based on the Pilot sport-utility but another vehicle.
The industry consultant, who declined to be named, said Honda would be wise not to base the vehicle off the Pilot, which is shorter but wider than a Chevrolet Tahoe. Such a vehicle might give the impression that it could carry and tow big loads, which the Pilot's unibody and V-6 engine would be unable to accomplish.
Basing the vehicle off the Accord would make it about the same size as the 2004 Nissan Murano. That sport-utility is based on the Altima's car platform.
This summer, Subaru will start selling the Baja, a vehicle with four doors and a pickup bed based on the Legacy.
Honda quietly has been conducting market research on pickups and sport-utilities for about four years, but this would be the first evidence of Honda developing a pickup bed for production.