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Simple Beginnings: The History of Honda

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On: Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 4:50PM | By: Teddy Field

Simple Beginnings: The History of Honda

Honda has long been admired for their reliability and terrific build quality. But it's their attention to detail that endears the brand to its loyal owner base. Cars like the Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Honda Odyssey are filled with little features that can make your life easier. And that's why your local Honda dealer is always packed with both new and returning customers. So let's find out where all of this 'love' comes from.

Once World War II was over, transportation in Japan was a mess. Nobody could afford a car or the gas to run it. Motorcycles were scarce, and the roads were horrible. Most people had to make do with a bicycle, even for long journeys. Then one day, a young mechanic named Soichiro Honda happened to notice a small generator engine sitting in the corner of a friend's shop. It was war surplus, previously used by the Imperial Army to power a wireless radio, so it wasn't an uncommon sight. But it gave Mr. Honda an idea: strap that small motor to a bicycle, and turn it into a motorcycle. After testing a few different variations, Mr. Honda settled on a design and took it to market in 1946.

Those Honda bicycle motors were a success, and the company was able to move into motorcycle production during the 1950s. In 1959, they sent a team of engineers to California to open American Honda. After studying our roads and customer needs, they determined that their 50cc Honda Cub would be the ideal motorbike for our market. One well-executed marketing campaign later, and American Honda was one its way to success.

With over 500 North American dealers, Honda introduced its first car in 1969—the Honda N600. It was a pint-sized little thing, and most Americans didn't see the point of it. The oil embargo of 1973, however, changed everybody's mind about small, fuel-efficient cars. Just in time for this market shift, Honda unveiled its new small car; the Honda Civic. This 40+ mpg compact car was an immediate hit, and the little Japanese motorcycle company was on its way to becoming a full-fledged car company.

The 1980s saw Honda become the first Japanese car company to open a factory on U.S. soil. Then in 1986, Honda established its Acura luxury brand, effectively changing the way Americans perceive luxury cars. In the next decade, the Honda Accord would become America's best-selling car, and the Civic would redefine the compact segment. Today, Honda is the world's largest engine manufacturer, with a product line that ranges from weed eaters to business jets. They still make motorcycles, ATVs, and scooters, but their main focus in the U.S. market is cars. They offer a wide variety of models to suit anyone's needs, and many of them are available as thrifty gas-electric hybrids.

In 2008 Honda introduced the FCX Clarity. Powered by hydrogen cells, the car does not emit any pollutants, the only by-products being water and oxygen. And to think, none of this would've happened if Mr. Honda hadn't noticed that little motor lying in the corner of his friend's shop.

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