Honda, as an automobile manufacturer, was officially incorporated in 1946, but its history goes further than that. The company was the brilliance of the founder Soichiro Honda, who had always had an interest in automobiles. His early vocation was a mechanic at the Art Shokai garage. He was involved in modifying normal vehicles into race cars. He also had an entrepreneurial disposition, which saw him start a company in 1937 that was involved in making piston rings.
Soichiro Honda went through a couple of failures, but his big breakthrough came when he was contracted to supply piston rings for Toyota. This didn't last for a very long time, as the contract was revoked because of poor quality products from Soichiro. The setback made Honda attend engineering school, but he never got to graduate. He embarked on a journey of going through car factories in Japan so that he could have a better understanding of Toyota's quality control. This decision proved to be worthwhile, as Honda started to supply piston rings to Toyota in 1941. The company grew rapidly from that point, and Toyota bought $40% stake, which resulted in Soichiro Honda being demoted from president to senior marketing manager. Honda might be big in the United States, but there are things that people don't know about the company and its history.
20 Honda CR-V And Picnic Tables
The CR-V is one of Honda's bestselling vehicles to date, but what a lot of people don't know is that the first models came with a picnic table.
All models from 1996 to 2006 included a folded plastic picnic table. It's unfortunate it didn't come with chairs.
No amount of market research prepared Honda for the US consumers. They weren't sure of what to include in a compact SUV to appeal to the American market. There were also no other vehicles in the market like the CR-V at that time, and Honda decided to be the pioneer of the picnic table. I doubt if there's any Honda enthusiast who'd like to see the return of the picnic table.
19 1 Million Miles
Not a lot of cars can hit 1 million miles on the odometer reading. According to consumer reports, the average life expectancy of a car is 150,000 miles, and that's why it was a big deal when a 1990 Honda Accord crossed the 1 million mark in 2012. The owner, Joe Lociero from Maine, said that he drove the car about 62,000 miles a year, which is a lot of distance covered. Jose said he followed the manual to the letter and changed oil every 5,000 miles. The major problems he has with the Accord are the cooling fans and the fuel pump. Honda gifted him with a new 2012 Accord, and it's been 6 years since. I'm pretty sure his new Accord is almost reaching the 50,0000-mile mark, given his reputation for long-distance driving.
The first car to be mass-marketed by Honda was the S600. The car was first launched in 1964, and there have been more deserving cars for mass-marketing. The S600 is a unique car and shares a similar platform with the N-one. The car can be termed as a roadster and definitely looks good on the eye, despite its size.
The S600 is a typical 'Kei,' which is considered too small to be sold to the American market. It has a 660cc 3-cylinder engine, which can produce up to 74HP.
Honda's main aim was to make the car affordable so that it could be produced for the mass market. There had been talks about introducing the vehicle to the North American market.
17 Acura Luxury Brand
The Honda Acura was the first luxury-car brand from Japan to be introduced in the United States. The Acura brand was first launched in the US and Canada in 1986 and was seen as a luxury line from the car manufacturer. The introduction of the Acura also came about because Honda introduced the JDM Dealership, which specialized in selling luxury and high-performance vehicles. Toyota could've also contributed to the birth of the Acura because it was around the same time that the Lexus was coming out. The Acura brand has been synonymous with luxury and high performance, and Honda has continued with the same culture and consistency in modern vehicles. The Acura brand has also been involved in American motorsport since 1991 and has even gone on to win some races.
16 First Four-Wheel-Drive Car
The first four-while-drive car was produced by Honda in 1987, and it was called the "Honda Prelude." The 1987 Prelude was the third generation of the model and featured modern exterior design compared to its predecessor. It was the first car meant for mass production that featured a 4-wheel mechanical system. There were a couple of variants produced during the time. Honda had projected that the home market would contribute to 30% of the sales in the first year, but the car exceeded their expectations and was a runaway success in Japan. It was the third choice as ''European Car Of The Year'' in 1988, just one year after it was launched. It received a couple of awards in Japan before it was finally overthrown by the Nissan Micra.
15 Honda Civic and the Oil Crisis
The 1973 oil crisis is something every car manufacturer wants to forget. There was an acute shortage of oil, which affected the global economy and the consumers' purchasing power. This called for car producers to be creative, and Honda responded to the crisis by introducing the Civic to the market.
The first Honda Civic was introduced in 1972, and the later models would gain prominence for being fuel-efficient.
The oil crisis was something that had been brewing for a long time, and 1973 was when the bubble burst. The Civic line has since moved to the upmarket and compact segment and is one of Honda's most successful models. It's still fuel-efficient and offers a ton of luxury features when it comes to the interior.
14 44 Years Of Gold Wing Production
The Honda Gold Wing has been in production since 1974, and it continues to be one of the most popular motorcycles up to today. One of the biggest landmarks of the Japanese Automotive Technology is the Gold Wing GL1000, which was first introduced in 1974. There have been several amazing motorcycles ever since, and it's hard to focus on a specific one. The Gold Wing could be said to be truly American because they were produced in Ohio from 1980 to 2010, when the production plant was transferred to Kumamoto In Japan. Most motorcycle enthusiasts are in love with the third generations from Honda. They looked really good and were reliable, with little maintenance needed to keep them in good condition.
13 Private Jets
Honda is among the few automobile companies producing private jets. The production is not a recent phenomenon and goes back to as early as when Soichiro was founding the company. It contributed to World War II by assisting other companies in producing war planes. Honda started experimenting with business jets in the '80s. It was using engines from other plane manufacturers. The first proof of the concept plane was it first being flown in North Carolina in 2003. The Jet was commercialized in 2006 and cost $4.5 million per unit. Majority of Honda's first 100 units orders were from customers from Europe. Honda plans to produce 80 planes a year to keep up with the demand they've created. It has taken the company over 30 years to commercialize the private jets.
12 Indy 500
The Indianapolis 500 is a popular motorsport event that takes place every year in Indiana. The event has been dubbed "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and attracts all kinds of drivers.
You can't talk about the Indy 500 without mentioning Honda. Honda-made engines have won the most number of races in the Indy 500.
This is a big achievement, given the fact that the competition has been around since 1911. The event is held in May, and the competition attracts one of the highest payouts in any sports. The winner can go home with $2.5 million. There's also a high possibility that he'll be driving an automobile with a Honda engine. The high prize has attracted a lot of European cars, but the Honda engine still reigns supreme.
11 Soya Beans Exportation
Honda is one of the biggest exporters of soya beans. It started exporting soya beans in 1986 and has since branched to Europe. There are a couple of reasons why the automobile manufacturing company decided to venture into the soya bean-exportation business. The main one had to do with the fact the crop was plentiful in Ohio, and there was a big enough market for it in Japan. Honda saw it as an opportunity since it had the logistical advantages because it exported auto parts, too. Honda now takes part in around $20 million of soya sales every year, which isn't a bad figure for a company whose primary business is automobiles. This is nothing compared to the $110 billion gross revenue the company makes every year.
10 Honda Airport
It's only proper to have your own airport when you intend to produce 80 private jets every year, and that's exactly what Honda did. The site is located in Kawajima in Japan and was previously used by the Japanese army during World War II. Honda took over the airport in 1943, and it was given an operational license in 1967. The airport has since become a monument, and people use it for sightseeing and the shooting of movies and TV shows. Honda uses it sometimes to test their vehicles because they have all the rights. We're likely to see it becoming a fully functional airport with the expansion of the Honda airplane business. It won't take long for this realization to come to fruition.
9 Largest Engine Manufacturer
Honda is by far the largest engine manufacturer in the world, which isn't a small achievement. Honda has been competing with Toyota, which is the 2nd-biggest car manufacturer, and they still manage to beat them when it comes to engine production.
The company celebrated its 25 millionth engine in 2017.
The engine in discussion was a 1.5-liter turbo, which was going to be fitted into the all-new Honda Accord. Honda is likely to remain the biggest engine manufacturer, as it decided to invest $47 million in the Anna engine plant in Ohio. The Anna production plant has been operational for 32 years and builds approximately 1 million engines every year. It'll take another 25 years to repeat what they did in 2017.
8 More Cars Than Motorbikes
There has always been this assumption that Honda is all about motorcycles and that cars are like a side business. The reality is that Honda makes more cars than motorcycles. Honda is involved in the manufacturing of so many things that it's sometimes hard to keep count. Car manufacturing remains the core of their business, though, and that's where the majority of resources and marketing are channeled. There's no denying that Honda produces some of the best motorcycles on the market today. It should, however, be made clear that there are more cars than motorbikes on the Honda assembly line every year. The Honda super cub might've sold over 100 million units, but you have to consider the fact that it's been in production since 1958.
7 Honda Accord First Foreign Vehicle Manufactured in the US
Honda might be a Japanese brand, but it has strong roots in American soil and is almost considered an indigenous vehicle. There are many foreign vehicles that are manufactured in the US, but it was the Honda Accord that was the first when it began production in Ohio in 1982. The Ohio plant has been the backbone of Honda's success in North America. It's known for the production of the Honda Accord, which has become one of America's favorite vehicles. The nameplate is applied in the 3 main verticals; the coupe, wagon, and the hatchback. The Honda Accord went on to become the best-selling Japanese vehicle in the US for 16 years from 1982 to 1997.
6 Honda Hybrid
Honda has been selling hybrid vehicles long before most of its competitors. The Toyota Prius is one of the most popular hybrid cars, but it wasn't the first in America. The first Hybrid was the Honda Insight, but it never gained popularity like the Prius because of its undersized engine. The car was launched a year earlier before the Prius. Honda, as an automobile producer, has tried almost everything conceivable, and it's one of the reasons why they're very successful. They're one of the early adopters of hybrid vehicles, and we're already seeing more vehicles like the popular CR-V coming with the option. The real challenge now is making a high-performance car that doesn't rely on gas.
5 Racing Over Production
There was a time in the company's history when racing was more important than everything else they were involved in. This was compounded with Soichiro's obsession with race cars. Honda always emphasized how racing improved teamwork when he was just starting the company. He was always looking for new innovations to overcome the challenges on the track. The philosophy still remains with Honda today, but I'm glad they shifted to vehicle manufacturing. Most of their high-performance vehicles are engineered with racing in mind. It's not a coincidence that Honda has won the most number of titles in the Indie 500 race. The Indycar is a testament to Honda's heritage and success in racing, and it all boils down to the engine.
4 It's Not All About the Automobile
Honda is a versatile company and has been involved in other industries that have nothing to do with the automobile. The exportation of soya beans is a perfect example of Honda's versatility. The company is involved in almost every industry you can imagine. You're likely to find the Honda badge on anything that requires an engine. The company is in the robotics business and is into building boats, generators, batteries, and lawnmowers. They have an army of engineers and scientists with the financial might of a big car manufacturer. It won't be long before we start seeing Honda everywhere, from the road to household items. One of the company's philosophies has been about changing the status quo, and diversifying to other fields is the perfect way of doing so.
A lot of people think that the Turbo was recently introduced in the Civic. However, Honda has been using Turbo engines for as long as we can remember. The first Turbo came in the '80s when they introduced the City II Turbo. Too bad this car never made it to North America. It wasn't the only Turbo engine that was released at that time. There were the Life Dunk and the Vamos Van, which used the Turbo engine. In America, the 10th gen Civic was the first Honda vehicle to use the Turbo. This is after several years of Honda tinkering with Turbo engines. It's a relief that the Turbo engines are no longer limited to the Asian market. You'll get it in almost all new Honda vehicles.
2 Model Names
There's a whole thought process that goes into the naming of Honda models. Honda has very creative names for vehicles, which isn't a surprise. The two most popular nameplates are the Civic and the Accord. The Accord name came about because Honda wanted a harmonious representation of people's individuality and the vehicles they drive. The nameplate Civic was all about showing the picture of the society and the surroundings. The goal of the company is to create cars that are reliable and those that people could relate too. Not a lot of car manufacturers go to such measures in naming their vehicles. A lot of them are just abbreviations, and there's no meaning or attachment to the name.
1 It All Started With Motorcycles
Just like Lamborghini started with tractors, Honda began their automobile journey with motorcycles. It all started when Soichiro Honda established the Honda Technical Institute in 1946 in Japan. The main objective of the institute was to research and develop 2-cycle motorbike engines. This led to the formation of Honda Motor Company Ltd in 1948. The company started by producing motorcycles. Honda is the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, but it still produces more vehicles. Honda ventured into the US market in 1959 by setting up a small shop in Los Angeles. Honda has produced over 100 million motorcycles ever since it was started. It's one of the core pillars of their business, and that's why they produce motorcycles for every kind of consumer.
Source: cheatsheet.com; wikipedia.org