American Honda Motor Co. Inc. confirms it is eyeing a derivative off the Odyssey minivan platform — likely a sport/utility vehicle — for production at its Alliston, Ont., plant.

Thomas G. Elliott, a Honda executive vice president, says a decision to produce the second model will be made by year's end. He says the addition of a second vehicle wouldn't require major investment at Alliston, which is designed to produce two or three distinct product lines.

“We're studying other products for Alliston,” says Richard G. Colliver, also a Honda executive vice president. “An SUV is one product we may be looking at.”

Mr. Eliott says capacity on the Alliston Odyssey line is about 150,000 units annually. Honda expects to sell about 60,000 of the vans this year, but currently is building only about 3,000 per month.

“We want to get to 6,000-7,000 per month,” says Mr. Elliott. “Our dealers think they could sell 100,000 Odysseys, maybe 120,000.”

Mr. Eliott says Honda should be able to hit the 6,000-7,000 monthly rate some time next year after a second shift hits stride. Honda is hoping to get the second shift going by late this year. Odyssey exports are expected to begin within the next month or two, Mr. Elliott says. He says there are no plans to build a right-hand-drive version of the van, however.