What America needs: A dog-friendly car

The idea isn't coming out of Detroit, but maybe America's automakers will again copy the Japanese and learn how to make a profit by making a pet-friendly car.

Honda Motor Co. recently unveiled the pet friendly version of its Element utility vehicle at the New York Auto Show, according to a Reuters story. It will have a cushioned dog bed in the trunk, a built-in water bowl and fan, and a ramp to help less agile dogs climb in.

It also has easy-wash seat covers, a fitted dog bed with restraints to keep the pet safe in a crash, and a paw logo on the side. The car is set to go on sale across the United States in the fall.

With Americans spending $41 billion a year on their pets, and forecast to increase to $52 billion in two years, Honda looks to be on the right track.