According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Inc., 39 percent of all U.S. households include at least one dog, with an estimated total U.S. dog population of 74.8 million. In a 2008 estimate, all pet purchases and related products and services comprised an estimated total market value of more than $43 billion.
In light of these facts, the folks at American Honda Motor Company, Inc. decided to take action. As Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of Product Planning for American Honda, pointed out, “The Honda Element has long been recognized as an accommodating vehicle for people with active lifestyles involving sports and hobbies. And our new dog-friendly Element takes that concept to a whole new level with specially designed features for dogs and their owners.”
Kudos to Honda - finally, an auto manufacturer has seen the light and is answering the needs of dogs and their humans, with an emphasis on safety. The 2010 Honda Element EX model serves as the basis for Honda’s “Dog-Friendly Package” engineered to integrate with factory precision into the Element EX. The canine equipment is intended to accommodate the safe and secure transport of a dog in the cargo area in a specially designed nylon-webbed car kennel. In daily operation, the kennel helps keep the pet properly restrained and out of harm’s way. In the event of a frontal collision, it helps restrain the dog behind the rear seats, reducing the chance of injury – while also minimizing injury to human occupants in the event of a crash.
In addition to safety, the well thought-out dog equipment enhances pet comfort by providing a soft floor surface, a dedicated fan, and a spill-resistant water container. Loading and unloading convenience is improved with an integrated ramp. The dog-friendly package also includes a cushioned pet bed in the cargo area on an elevated platform;. stain- and wear-resistant second-row seat covers with a dog pattern design that matches the bed fabric; all-season rubber floor mats with a toy bone pattern; a bone-shaped container of “doodie” bags; and more. The accessories package is priced at $995.
To please the people in the family, the Honda Element now offers a few different body styles, some nice colors, good horsepower, plus four-wheel drive and onboard navigation options. EPA fuel economy ratings are estimated at 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
Bottom line, the Honda Element EX Dog Friendly Edition is a doggone good idea that other vehicle manufacturers are sure to emulate.