The History of Honda Motor Company
The Honda Motor Company is a multi-national corporation that is diverse in its manufactured products. Most notably, Honda has been the largest manufacturer of motorcycles and combustion engines since 1964. Today the company produces nearly 15 million engines annually. Honda is continually diversifying as the company produces:
- All-terrain Vehicles
- Electrical Generators
- Jet Engines
- Landscaping Equipment
- Outboard Motors
- Solar Cells
- Water Pumps
Honda was founded in 1948 by Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa. Soichiro Honda got his start with working on vehicles at a young age and would enter some vehicles in races. Honda would form his first business, Tokai Sieki that would supply piston rings to Toyota. The contract was lost as Toyota determined the piston rings did not meet expectations. Honda would work to develop an automated process that would produce piston rings that would finally be accepted by Toyota. Soichiro Honda’s company would produce piston rings for the war effort until his factory would be destroyed by an American bomber.
After World War II in 1946, Honda would gather a team of 12 individuals to that would make up the Honda Technical Research Institute. The company would use leftover parts from the Japanese military to produce motorcycles. The engine of choice was a 50cc air-cooled single-cylinder that was produced by Tohatsu. When the engines were no longer an option for the company they resorted to producing their own engines off of the Tohatsu design. In 1947 Honda would introduce its first in-house motorcycle known as the A Type. This motorcycle would be the start of the Honda Motor Company. By 1955 the largest and best selling motorcycle producer in Japan would be Honda.
In 1963 Honda would start its line of automobiles as it would release the S500 which would be the company’s first sports car as well as the T360 that would be the companies first light truck. The S500 would show off the talent of Honda’s engineers as it would utilize the technology from their motorcycle engine builders in order to produce an inline-four cylinder that had an individual carburetor for each cylinder and an impressive redline of 9500 rpm. The S500 was to follow the S360 but the vehicle was never put into production. The S500 would utilize independent suspension and start at a price of under $1,300 which would be around $9,000 dollars today. The Honda Motor Company would also be selling tillers and generators by 1963. In 1964 the Honda Motor Company would enter into Formula 1 with its debut race at the Germany Grand Prix. The Honda Formula 1 car would be driven by an American driver by the name of Ronnie Bucknum who would finish 13th and only due to an accident that had occurred.
Honda would work to export more of its products and eventually start to build and expand facilities around the world in countries including:
- New Zealand
- United States
As Honda’s international reach expanded the company decided to expand into luxury vehicles in 1986 as the company introduced Acura to the American general public. With two models known as the Legend and Integra, the company would sell 52,869 vehicles in its first year alone and then double its sales figures in the following year. Acura would be the first Japanese luxury line of vehicles and with its overall success would soon bring in the introduction of competing Japanese luxury companies such as Toyota’s Lexus and Nissan’s Infiniti.
In 1991 Honda would introduce its first supercar under the Acura luxury line called the NSX. This was another big step for Honda Motor Company as the NSX was the first all-aluminum monocoque production vehicle that utilized a mid-engine V-6 with Honda’s variable-valve-timing. The car was to compete against supercars throughout and was well received as individuals were not use to reliable supercars.
In 1995 Honda would start testing its aircraft engines with the hopes of producing jet aircraft under the Honda names. This would lead to Honda Motor Company’s subsidiary, Honda Aircraft Company. Honda also began researching robotics in 1986 and would lead to the company’s first humanoid robot ASIMO. Honda would also start to outreach into newer technologies such as hydrogen powered cars as the company produced it first hydrogen powered vehicle the FCX Clarity. The FCX Clarity is currently available for a lease-only through Honda for 36 months. The company is in the process of gathering real world testing in order to move to full on production.
Honda is also working on solar cells for residential and commercial use. Honda has named the company Honda Soltec and in 2010 the company has started sales of residential versions that offer maximum output of 120w and 130w. The Honda Soltec Company will start exporting their solar cells in the upcoming years.
Honda is continually producing a diverse line of vehicles all around the world and continues to innovate as well as remain profitable in recessive times when other manufacturers are not such as we have seen in 2008 when the economic recession had ensued. As for the future of Honda they are working on more alternative energy vehicles and power production such as the Honda Fit EV (Electric Vehicle) that will be offered in select markets for 2013.