Finally, an automobile manufacturer is paying attention to us! Honda Motor Co. has come up with a design for a minivan with the safety and comfort of our dog co-pilots in mind. The “WOW Concept,” or “Wonderful Openhearted Wagon,” developed to test consumer reaction in Japan, was exhibited at the Tokyo Motor Show in late October.
The minivan features a special crate for small dogs in the glove compartment area, or for medium-sized dogs, a crate that pops up in the back seat area and can be folded into the floor when it’s not needed. It even has bigger doors and a special floor-mounted seatbelt to secure large dogs. With its paneled flooring, washable seat covers, built-in water bowls and paw-print tire treads, the minivan is Honda’s first step toward pet-friendly motor travel. “We created this vehicle from the point of view of a dog, but it turned out to be a gentler vehicle for elderly, children and other family members,” said Honda designer Katsuhito Nakamura. Though Honda hasn’t disclosed a plan for commercial sale of the minivan in the US, the company has been developing several “Travel Dog” car accessories for sale in Japan later this year.
About a fifth of Japanese households have dogs, and with the number of pet owners in Japan increasing by 3 percent each year for the last decade, it seems that Honda has identified a receptive market niche.
“Increasingly, car makers are looking to smaller runs of cars aimed at specific areas of the car-buying public,” said Paul Ormond, Honda representative. “With these kinds of accessories we are recognizing people love their dogs.”