The Honda Motor Company is a Japanese multinational manufacturer of motorcycles, automobiles, power equipment, and aircraft. They’ve been the largest manufacturer of motorcycles since 1959. On top of that, they’ve become the largest internal combustion engine manufacturer by volume in the world. By 2001, they were the second-largest automobile manufacturer from Japan and the eighth largest in the world.
In 1986, Honda became the first Japanese automaker to release their own line of luxury vehicles with the brand, Acura. They are also known for their garden equipment, personal watercraft, power generators, and marine engines.
By 2013, Honda was the first automaker out of Japan to become a net exporter from the US. In that year, they exported over 108,000 Acura and Honda models, but only imported a little over 88,000.
A Brief History Of The Honda Company
In the Beginning
There were failures in the beginning. One occured when Tōkai Seiki achieved a contract from Toyota to supply them with piston rings, but ended up losing the deal because the quality was so poor. He didn’t allow that to stop him from trying. Honda went back to engineering school but didn’t graduate. He also visited factories in Japan to get a feel for the quality control of Toyota. Then, in 1941, he was capable of mass-producing the piston rings Toyota was looking for. Honda even used a process that was automated so he could employ some of the unskilled wartime laborers.
At the beginning of World War II, Tōkai Seiki ended up under the control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Soichiro Honda was removed as president of the company and redirected to become the senior managing director. In the process, Toyota took 40% stake in his company.
Honda aided World War II by offering assistance to other companies with their automation process of military aircraft propellers. Honda created relationships with the Nakajima Aircraft Company, the Imperial Japanese Navy, and Toyota during this time that would prove to be invaluable.
In 1944, a B-29 bomber from the United States destroyed the Yamashita plant. Then, in 1945, their Itawa plant crumbled from an earthquake. Honda sold the remains of his company off to Toyota for the equivalent of $4,050 dollars. He then used this money to finance his Honda Technical Research Institute in 1946.
The Growth of The Honda Motor Company
He started off with a staff of 12 men. Together, they worked in a 170-square-foot shack. Inside, they produced and sold motorized bicycles that were outfitted with a two-stroke 50cc Tohatsu war radio generator engine.
They only had a supply of 500 engines. When these ran out, they began to build their own version of the motor for the bicycles. This was called the Honda A-Type, otherwise known as Bata Bata after the sound of the engine.
When was Honda founded? In 1949, liquidation of the Honda Technical Research Institute occurred for the equivalent of $5,000 in today’s money. This was then used to start the Honda Motor Company. They hired Kihachiro Kawashima to be their engineer. Takeo Fujisawa also came aboard as the business and marketing expert for the company. The incredible partnership between Fujisawa and Honda was tight; even until they stepped down from the company together in 1973.
The company’s first automobile was their T360. It was a small pickup truck and hit the market in 1963. It was powered with a 356-cc straight-4 gas engine and found its way into the Kei car tax bracket. Their first car was the S500. This sports car made its way into production in 1963 as well. The chain-driven rear wheels came from Honda’s bike background.
During the next decades, the company grew its line of products and created operations around the world. By 1986, they successfully introduced their luxury Acura line of vehicles to America. In 1991, they also released the NSX supercar, which was the first of its kind. It featured an all-aluminum structure and incorporated the mid-engine V6 that had variable-valve timing.
By 1990, the company began to feel the death of its found Soichiro Honda. They were being outpaced by other Japanese manufacturers as far as product development was concerned. They got caught off-guard by the SUV and truck boom during the 1990s, which took away a good chunk of profits for them.
The media began to report that during 1992 and the following year, Honda could become the target of a hostile takeover from rival Mitsubishi Motors. At the time, they were much larger when compared by volume.
The Honda Company rushed to catch up and released the CR-V SUV plus the Odyssey minivan. This took some of the attention off their coupes and sedan from the engineers, but the consumers didn’t stop buying them.
Since then, Honda has become a household name. They’ve been a leader in producing quality automobiles that consumers love to drive. In addition, they’ve opened numerous plants around the world with some in the United States. They’ve even earned the 24th spot on Forbes Most Valuable Brands list.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
The car was first given to Los Angeles city employees. Then, in 2005, select dealers offered the GX to the public. Just a year later, it was released for purchase in the state of New York as well.
By 2015, the company halted plans to produce the GX any longer, as well as any other natural-gas vehicles. They wanted to refocus energy on hybrids, hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars, and plug-in electrics.
Honda Brazil launched the Civic and Fit as flexible-fuel versions during 2006. They blend hydrous ethanol, otherwise known as E100 together with E20-E25 gas. They started by offering a limited amount to test the Brazilian market. Initially, only 33% of Civic production plus 28% of Fit models came with this option.
There was also a significant price increase for this technology. There was an additional $1,000 to purchase the Civic, with another $650 in costs for the Fit. This was unusual considering that other automakers offered their flex-fuel cars for the same price as regular versions. Their third flex-fuel vehicle was launched in Brazil in 2009. It was the Honda City.
By 2009, the demand for flex-fuel vehicles became so overwhelming that Honda got rid of all other versions in the Brazilian market. They can still receive some exports, but the majority of production in Brazil is for flexible-fuel models.
They even released their first flex-fuel bike in 2009. The CG 150 Titan Mix was produced by the subsidiary in Brazil, Moto Honda da Amazônia. The selling cost at the time was $2,700.
The second generation was released in America during 2009. At the time, the five-door hatchback was considered the cheapest hybrid to hit the United States market with a selling price under $20,000.
The company then released the Civic Hybrid in 2003 and the Accord Hybrid in 2005. By 2014, they sold over 1.35 million hybrid vehicles worldwide.
Plug-in Electric Vehicles
The company created the EV Plus, an all-electric vehicle, in 1997. They only released it as a Honda on lease in California at the time. It was the first vehicle from a major automobile manufacturer that used non-lead-acid battery power. This car featured a range of 100 miles and only sold about 275 units before production ceased in 1999.
In 2012, they released the Fit EV with an 82-mile range. At first, they were only available to consumers in Oregon and California. During the first three years, production was also limited to 1,100 vehicles. By 2015, they stopped production altogether.
Newer plug-in electric cars include the Clarity sedan with an 89-mile electric range. This has only been made available on lease as well.
Honda Safety and Crash Ratings
In addition, the NHTSA listed 17 2018 Honda vehicles with a 5-star overall rating. That goes to prove that this Japanese automaker takes safety seriously when producing their cars.
Honda Safety Equipment
The newest line of Honda vehicles come with their Sensing Suite. It’s filled with various driver assistance systems to protect occupants before, during, and after a crash.
Some of the technologies that come in the suite include Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, and Forward Collision Warning. Other equipment includes Road Departure Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Lane Keeping Assist, and Traffic Sign Recognition.
There are several other safety equipment technologies that come with newer vehicles which aren’t a part of the Sensing Suite. They include advanced front airbags, side curtain airbags, front side airbags, as well as driver and front passenger knee airbags. Other features are front and rear parking sensors, driver attention monitor, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor.
Their vehicles also come with a pedestrian injury mitigation design. When they produce the hood, they create it in a way that it deforms when a pedestrian comes in contact with it. That’s because they allow room between the hood and its engine.
Honda Safety Recalls
According to Wards Auto, Honda has one of the highest recall rates of all the automakers. In fact, they only have less recalls than Chrysler and the Volkswagen Group. They also rank relatively high on the severity of their recalls. It’s estimated that over 94% of the recent recalls could have resulted in death, injury, crash, accident, or fire. Again, they placed near the bottom of those ranks, just below Nissan, Hyundai, and Tesla. To make matters even worse, they’ve only initiated 35.5% of their recalls. The rest were forced by the NHTSA. This places them again at the bottom of the list, just in front of the Ford Motor Company.
Forbes uses data from several years prior to Wards Auto. With that additional data, they place Honda as the #10 spot in the recall list out of 15 automakers. Either way you look at it, Honda is known for lots of recalls.
Another 800,000 of the recalls included the Honda Odyssey from 2011-2017. They found the second-row of seating wasn’t latching securely after being placed back in the minivan. This could’ve led to the seat tipping forward during heavy braking with an increase in passenger injury.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
According to Consumer Reports, Honda ranks on the good scale regarding customer satisfaction. They also ranked them average when it came to predicted reliability.
J.D. Power also gave them fairly average ratings in terms of reliability. They scored 3/5 on Overall Dependability, Powertrain Dependability, as well as Body and Interior Dependability. They did, however, receive 4/5 on Feature and Accessory Dependability.
Overall, Consumer Reports ranks Honda on the lower scale of the Cost of Ownership. After three years, the average cost of maintenance and repairs is estimated to be $145. This initial number is slightly higher than many other brands, but the ten-year cost is low at just $455.
- North American Car of the Year – Accord
- Car and Driver’s America’s Best Sedan – Accord
- Motorweek’s Best Small Car – Civic
- Best Buy Winner from KBB – Civic
- S. News Best Subcompact Car for the Money – Fit
- Best Resale Value from KBB – Fit
- S. News Best Subcompact SUV for the Money – HR-V
- Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year – CR-V
- S. News Best Compact SUV for the Money – CR-V
- CNET’s Cabin Tech of the Year – Odyssey
- Car and Driver’s Best Mid-Size Pickup – Ridgeline
- Car and Driver’s Editor’s Choice Award – Ridgeline
Honda began producing power equipment in 1953 with their H-type engine. In 2007, they hit record sales with 6.4 million machines. The overall production figure at the time was 85 million machines.
Their power equipment division is responsible for creating tillers, lawn mowers, engines, robotic lawn mowers, trimmers, riding lawn mowers, and blowers. They also produce sprayers, snowthrowers, hedge trimmers, generators, pumps, and welding equipment. Some of their heavier equipment includes outboard engines, electric four-wheel scooters, and inflatable boats.
Honda is known for their engine production. In fact, they’ve powered the entire 2010 Indianapolis 500 starting field.
It all started during the 1980s when they developed their GY6 for motor scooters. While Honda doesn’t make it any longer, the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean still use it in light vehicles.
Surprisingly, they’ve never created a V8 for their vehicles. They considered it in the 2000s, for use in Acura cars, but plans were later canceled. Their reasoning was due to the economic conditions of the world and environmental concerns.
Honda introduced new technology when they produced the HA-420 HondaJet. It was manufactured in partnership with the subsidiary Honda Aircraft Company. This aircraft allowed more advanced levels of reducing drag, an increase in aerodynamics and increased fuel efficiency. All the while, they still reduced operating costs.
Honda is also known for their Honda RN-01 downhill racing bike. It was never made available for sale to the general public but featured a gearbox instead of a typical derailleur. Several people were hired to pilot the bicycle, including Greg Minnaar. They even named them Team G Cross Honda.
Snapshot of the Company
Honda’s headquarters are in Tokyo, Japan. They are traded on both the New York and Tokyo Stock Exchange as well as Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Paris, Switzerland, and London.
They operate many assembly plants across the world. Some are located in the United States, China, Canada, Japan, Pakistan, England, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and New Zealand.
Honda Canada is found in Markham, Ontario. The company participates in several joint ventures around the world, including Hero Honda Motorcycles, Honda Siel Cars, Dongfeng Honda, Honda Atlas, and Guangzhou Honda.
The CEO of the Honda Motor Company is Takahiro Hachigo, while the president of Honda North America is Takuji Yamada.
According to Forbes, Honda ranks #24 on the World’s Most Valuable Brands list, #58 on the Global 2000, and #219 in the World’s Best Employers. They also rank #223 in the Best Employers for Diversity and #28 in the Top Regarded Companies.
Honda’s revenue in 2017 was $130.19 billion worldwide. At the same time, American Honda broke their yearly sales record with 1,641,429 vehicles, which was a 0.2% gain from the previous year. Their light truck market rose 3.3%.
In addition, they set a fourth consecutive record for their Civic, HR-V, and CR-V vehicles.
Acura is a company underneath the Honda brand. They were created to rival the Toyota and Nissan line of luxury vehicles. After researching the market for a decade, Honda opened up 60 dealerships in America for the 1987 model year. They started by offering two cars: the Legend (executive class) and the Integra (compact class).
The company has been successful for Honda and continues to be a beacon in the luxury automotive world.
The company wanted their logo to represent reliability, durability, and trustworthiness. Their “H” is broader towards the top and narrower at the bottom. It’s almost as if there are arms raised up to the sky – which could be where their motto “The Power of Dreams” comes from.
Their official logo colors are black (sophistication), red (passion), and silver (elegance).
From the beginning of the company, Honda has been in the advertising business across the globe. During the 2000s, the United States market met Mr. Opportunity through television ads. He was an animated character, with the voice of Rob Paulsen. He promoted year-end closeouts and often said he was knocking, meant to reference opportunity knocks. At the end of the commercials, he would literally knock on television screens to further illustrate the point.
During the 2009 model year, the company released their Dream the Impossible series. It was a documentary collection of short web clips that focused heavily on the company’s core philosophies. Some of the series included: “Kick Out the Ladder,” “Mobility 2088,” and “Failure: The Secret to Success.” Employees starred in the series as well as some bigger names like Danica Patrick and Christopher Guest.
A big part of the company’s advertising is their sports sponsorships. They are the official partner of the NHL and also have an arena named for their participation: the Honda Center used by the Anaheim Ducks. In addition, they also sponsor The Honda Classic golf tournament and support Major League Soccer.
They were also the presenting sponsor for the Los Angeles Marathon for many years. To celebrate, the winner would receive a free Accord.
They first entered Formula One racing in 1964 when Ronnie Bucknum drove for them. A year later, they added Richie Ginther as well. He scored their first point during the Belgian Grand Prix, plus the team’s first win.
The next win occurred in 1967 during the Italian Grand Prix when John Surtees was the driver. But, just a year later, driver Jo Schlesser died during the French Grand Prix. That tragedy, combined with the difficulty of selling vehicles, caused them to pull out of all international-level motorsports for the year.
They made a return to Formula One during the 1983 race year. Their vehicles won six years of the Formula One Constructors Championships, but later withdrew again in 1992.
They planned to return to Formula One in 1998 but later aborted the idea when Harvey Postlethwaite (their technical director) died. They did return again in 2015 to supply engines to McLaren, but the two companies split ways in 2017 when they went three seasons without a win.
Their debut in the IndyCar Series began in 1994 as an engine supplier. They were behind six consecutive championships with their competitive engines. By 2004, they dominated the Series with 14 wins out of 16 races. During 2006 through 2011, they were the only engine supplier for the Series.
The Honda Collection Hall is located in Japan and houses about 300 restored automobiles, motorcycles, and race cars. It’s an illustrated walk through the history of the company. There are three levels to the building. On the first level, there’s a museum shop, reading room, and exhibit on the dreams of the company. Making your way to the second level gives access to the motorcycle display, various automobiles, as well as power products. Finally, the third level showcases numerous racing motorcycles and cars.
ASIMO is also found in the museum. You can see him kicking balls, running, and carrying objects. In the Pit Kobo section of the collection, it’s possible to build an electric cart and then take it for a spin. The museum has been open since 1998 and is operated by the Honda subsidiary Mobilityland.
This is where the company also stores their various honors, including the 10 Best awards. They even keep all the old brochures. Honda isn’t the only brand represented as they do have restored Acura vehicles as well. The most spectacular site in the building is the 1991 and 2004 NSX.
Honda Financial Services
When consumers hope to find a Honda to lease or a Honda for sale, they often need help paying for it. That’s when Honda Financial Services comes in. Finding the Honda on sale is just the first step, then, the financial department helps make payments affordable and reasonable for consumers. Not only do they finance that Honda Civic for sale, but they also have plans to cover power sports, power equipment, and marine engines.
American Honda Finance Corporation’s offices are located in Torrance, California. They’ve been offering financial services since 1980. Along with special incentive plans provided occasionally, they also grant $500 to college grads and $500 to military members.
They also have several additional plans to make owning or leasing a Honda simpler than ever before. With the Honda Care Maintenance Plan, most of the regular service visits are covered. This enables consumers to have factory-trained Honda technicians work on their vehicles and protects them from inflation if costs rise later. It also keeps the vehicle in optimum condition so the resale value down the road remains high.
Their Vehicle Service Contracts are available on new and pre-owned vehicles. There are various plans to cover the drivetrain, electronics, chassis, heating and cooling system, plus accessories. Other benefits include rental cars, roadside assistance, and trip interruption coverage.
Their Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) protects consumers that face a total loss to the vehicle. Many times insurance doesn’t pay out what’s owed on a new car, so the GAP coverage takes care of the difference.
The Honda Masters Circle program honors the highest volume dealerships in the nation. It’s only been around since 2014 and is the tell-tale sign of a dealer with high standards for customer satisfaction as well as growing sales numbers.
The President’s Award is a coveted and prestigious honor granted from the company as well. It recognizes the dealer teams that excel in customer satisfaction, business management, and new car sales volumes. Only about 15% of the dealerships earn this award each year.
Another place to look is the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence Award. For the 2018 year, only one dealership is listed; Johnson Honda of Stuart located in Stuart, FL.
6 Interesting Facts about Honda
1 – The first foreign car that was manufactured in the United States was the Accord. It happened in 1982 at the Marysville, Ohio plant. It also because the first vehicle from a foreign company to become the best-selling automobile in the nation.
2 – The company puts a lot of thought into the names of its models. The Accord represents the harmony between automobiles and the drivers. A Civic produces images of a whole society, city, and busy crowds.
3 – The Prelude was the first four-wheel drive car in the world.
4 – They have maintained the title of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959.
5 – The company is a major exporter of soybeans.
6 – During the 1960s, a group of four men from Los Angeles were so inspired by the company that they created a rock band named The Hondells. Their first song was “Little Honda.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Honda Made? It’s estimated that 94% of the vehicles sold in 2013 were made in North America. In addition, about 70% of their parts came from either the United States or Canada with only 15% of the components coming from Japan. About 680,000 vehicles a year come from the Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio.
Is Honda Japanese? They are a Japanese manufacturer of automobiles, but the majority of cars sold in the United States are produced on American soil.
Does Honda Own Acura? Yes. Honda created the Acura brand in 1986 to compete with several other companies looking to start luxury marques. They quickly earned the reputation of being one of the best-selling luxury brands in the country.
Are Hondas Good Cars? Studies show that they hold their value and have amazing safety ratings. On the other hand, they have a relatively high recall rate.
Does Honda Make a Truck? Yes, they produce the Honda Ridgeline. Not only does the Ridgeline boast of being the only truck to earn a top safety pick from the IIHS, but it’s won several other awards as well. Accolades include the J.D. Power & Associates “2018 APEAL Award” and Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Award.
Will Honda Bring Back the Element? Honda stopped produced the Element in 2011 due to poor sales; however, they plan to try again in 2019. There may even be a hybrid or electric powertrain with it.
Who Makes Honda Oil? While ExxonMobil was once the supplier, they lost the contract to ConocoPhillips. COP is also the supplier to the Ford Motor Company which is why Honda’s oil is basically identical to the Motorcraft counterpart.