2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
It all began in 1946 with auxiliary motors for bicycles. 70 years later, Honda has risen to become a global company that not only builds cars and motorcycles, but also robots and airplanes.
With the conversion of former generators to auxiliary motors for bicycles, the engineer Soichiro Honda laid the foundation stone for today's global company Honda. At a breathtaking pace, the Japanese managed to become a global player that, in addition to motorcycles and cars, now even builds humanoid robots and planes.
The production of motorized bicycles was followed by the founding of Honda Motor Co. Ltd in 1948, which brought the first motorcycle onto the market just a year later. Soichiro, respectfully called “engine magician” by admirers and competitors, made a childhood dream come true; matching this, his first motorcycle was named Dream.
1961 first Honda motorcycles in Germany
A good ten years later, Honda already dominated half of the Japanese domestic motorcycle market and the first branch in the USA also flourished. In 1961, when its motorcycles stormed from victory to victory on European racetracks for the first time, Honda also opened a branch in Hamburg. Initially, the focus was on selling motorcycles that were assembled in Belgium from 1963.
In the same year, the Japanese also amazed experts with the S 500 roadster, which was followed two years later by the S 600. In 1967 Honda brought the N 360 microcar to Germany, which, however, earned scorn and malice for its meager output and the high price.
“A step into a better future,” as the Honda advertising put it, was the Civic introduced in Germany in 1973. Hatchback, front-wheel drive and transversely mounted engines characterized this successful compact class in the following years. The sporting highlight of the series was the CRX Coupé from 1983. The inexpensive and thoroughbred sports car, together with the Accord, ensured steadily increasing sales successes in Germany. After 37,000 units around 1985, Honda achieved the all-time record of almost 70,000 newly registered cars as a result of German reunification.
Duel with Toyota
Shortly after the turn of the millennium, Honda even briefly rose to second place in Japan's production statistics - right behind Toyota. Soichiro Honda's heirs, who retired from management in 1973, have been dueling with this arch-rival for leadership in hybrid and fuel cell technology since the 1990s. Early Honda hybrid models such as the Insight sports coupé from 1999 and the FCX fuel cell sedan, which has been delivered since 2002, set signals in the same way as other technical innovations.
The humanoid robots of the Asimo family, which have been tried and tested since 1986, mark milestones on the way to autonomous locomotion, but Honda was also the first to realize other technical dreams. For example the all-wheel steering (Prelude, from 1987), aluminum monocoque and aluminum body (NSX, 1990) or the intelligent night vision device (Legend, 2004).
Today the Japanese program includes automobiles and motorcycles as well as industrial equipment, stationary engines, block-type thermal power stations, garden maintenance equipment, ATVs and quads as well as outboard motors. Everything in the spirit of Soichiro Honda, who wanted to give people new opportunities through engines. (SP-X)