Powersports Business spoke with American Honda Motor Co. officials about the manufacturer’s DN-01, which in time could prove to be a trendsetter with its automatic transmission.
American Honda Motor Co. officials addressed the demographics, production and other issues concerning the new DN-01.
Powersports Business: Are you anticipating this bike to generate a little different demographic compared with the average new bike buyer? If so, how do you see the DN-01 demographic perhaps differing from the typical bike buyer?
Honda: DN-01 targets a number of different types of riders. First, it is targeted to buyers looking for something unconventional, a machine that defies existing categories. The “Crossover” classification we gave this machine defines its position as “a comfortable sports cruiser,” something that heretofore didn’t exist. The development concept for the DN-01 called for relaxed, easy operation with a luxurious ride and distinctive styling. A full-sized motorcycle with an automatic transmission for ease of operation is a natural match for people in the United States, where the vast majority of automobiles are equipped with automatic transmissions. Further, the DN-01 is targeted at buyers looking for a simplified motorcycling experience, which it delivers partly through its HFT automatic transmission. It’s a less technical approach to motorcycling, with a greater emphasis on simply enjoying the riding experience.
PSB: In a related question, are some of Honda’s marketing plans with this bike perhaps skewed to a certain demographic? If so, what demographic?
Honda: The demographic follows the positioning above, however the low seat height also will appeal to riders who, for example, find sport bike seat heights too tall for their liking. Also, the ease of operation with the automatic transmission in the DN-01 makes it easy to target the non-enthusiast. Marketing efforts toward that end will attract a new set of buyers into the market and expand the sport.
PSB: We’ve obviously seen the issue of gas mileage become a very relevant topic this year in terms of new bike sales. Is the automatic transmission expected to have a noticeable effect on gas mileage?
Honda: The DN-01’s automatic transmission is highly efficient. It utilizes a lockup mechanism in cruising mode to reduce power loss and improve efficiency.
PSB: Does Honda already have plans to build on this automatic transmission platform, perhaps with a second model that has a higher or lower displacement option? Or will the company gauge first-year sales before deciding upon further growth for this type of powerplant?
Honda: Certainly there is potential for additional models that utilize automatic transmission platforms. Right now we have several ATV models, and also the new Big Red, that utilize various automatic transmissions, and they continue to be well received in the marketplace.
PSB: I know Honda does not like to talk specifically about production numbers, but is the DN-01 production going to be limited at all? Also, when are the bikes expected to hit dealer showrooms?
Honda: You are correct. We do not like to discuss production numbers, but we can tell you DN-01 distribution will be limited in its initial U.S. release. It will be in Honda dealer showrooms in March. However, initial dealer response was very positive for this innovative motorcycle, so we are prepared to ramp up production to meet demand.
— Neil Pascale