Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing/Research Inc., in Bandon, Ore., says Honda will do well with buyers age 45 and older. That came out of interviews his company did with more than 1,000 people in post-Detroit auto show focus groups.
"Baby boomers show the most interest," Spinella says. "If they want to make a youth vehicle, they need to do what Toyota did with the Scion. They need to hide it from boomers because the minute you let someone over 45 see it they're going to go buy it because it's a Honda. They have that much faith in the brand. Not that Honda really cares who buys it."
Honda figures most of the SUT's competition will come from compact and crew cab pickups, mainly the Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier Crew Cab, the Chevrolet Avalanche and the Ford Sport Trac, an SUV with a short bed in back.
"It's not a Toyota or a Nissan," Boyd says. "This is not for somebody looking for a traditional truck. This is something more refined, more sophisticated, sporty and with good handling.
"From a marketing standpoint we can say it is unique because this is a new market for us," he says. "We've done something we think is different than what's out there. That's the direction we're going to take."
Spinella says Honda is doing the right thing by calling it SUT, which stands for sport-utility truck.
"They have to present it in much the same way Ford has done with its Sport Trac," he says. "Ford doesn't call it a truck because it's not built like one, and it can't take the load. Honda will do that and volume will be there."