“The next generation Ridgeline will build on Honda's role in creating new value with a new take on advancing form and function in the truck segment,” said Michael Accavitti, senior vice president of automobile operations for American Honda Motor Co. Inc., in a statement. “With a clear path forward, Ridgeline will play an even more important role in our future product portfolio and strengthen an already class-leading lineup of light trucks.”
According to a release from the company, the plant in Lincoln will cease production of the current Ridgeline in mid-2014.
Ted Pratt, department manager for corporate affairs and communication at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, said the nearly two-year hiatus will allow the company’s research-and-development team to make preparations for the new model.
The sketch released Tuesday is more of a silhouette, but Honda officials said it expresses the vehicle’s new styling direction.
Pratt said he did not have details concerning how the move would affect staffing at the Lincoln plant, but said Honda will announce any changes as the company comes closer to production of the new model.
Bill Visnic, an auto analyst and senior editor for Edmonds.com, said the Ridgeline’s nearly two-year hiatus seems like a long time to wait.
“That truck is old in the market, to put it kindly,” he said.
Visnic said the Ridgeline has experienced modest sales in recent years.
According to its website, Honda sold more than 50,000 units in 2006, but figures dropped to 16,464 Ridgelines three years later and reached a low of 9,759 in 2011.
However, sales increased to more than 14,000 last year, and they reached 16,160 by the end of November this year.
The Ridgeline was never meant to compete with typical trucks, Visnic said, but was instead meant to appeal to customers who want a lighter, more fuel-efficient pickup.
“It’s still nice to have that choice, even if it’s two years away,” he said.
Visnic said the announcement of an all-new Ridgeline model might be enough to have fans hold off their car purchases for two years, and he expects that was Honda’s intention.
Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_Star.