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.”