Detroit — In updating its Ridgeline midsize pickup, Honda Motor Co. aimed to create the ultimate tailgating tool.
Honda introduced the Ridgeline in 2005 with a SMC bed incorporating molded-in tie-down spots and secure storage under the bed. The 2017 version, unveiled at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 11, retains those popular features of original, and adds some new innovations.
A first-of-its-kind in-bed audio system forgoes conventional speakers, which could be easily damaged in a cargo area. Instead six exciters — devices that vibrate the surface they are attached to — located inside the bed walls use the composite material itself as a speaker.
A Honda spokesman said in an interview with Plastics News after the reveal that the audio system can pump out music even in a bed filled with mulch or dirt.
“Now, you can't see it, there are no speakers to get bashed and scraped when you're hauling mulch or lumber. But you can hear it,” said Executive Vice President John Mendel for American Honda during the Ridgeline reveal. “Especially with its 540-watt audio system, it's good old-fashioned Honda engineering magic.”
It's not the first time the auto industry has looked at alternatives to a standard speaker. The 2005 Ford Mustang used the interior trim plastic panel as part of its speaker system, and won a Society of Plastics Engineers award, but the system never took off. In 2011, Johnson Controls Inc. showed a concept similar to the Ridgeline, using exciters attached to the interior trim to convert the headliner to a speaker system, but that has not gone to market.