In fact, since it was launched in 1959, Honda Motor Company Ltd. has been one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world. In 2001, Honda overtook Nissan and became the second largest Japanese car manufacturer, producing more than 14 million internal combustion engines every year. In 2008, Honda exceeded Chrysler in the United States in becoming the fourth largest car manufacturer in the country.
The founder of Honda, Soichiro Honda, always had an interest in cars, working as a mechanic in a garage in Japan where he renovated cars and then raced them. Honda, together with an acquaintance Kato Shichiro, founded Tokai Seiki in 1937, a company which made piston rings. The company went from strength to strength and won a contract to supply piston rings to Toyota. However, the contract was subsequently lost. This made Soichiro Honda more determined to succeed and he later attended engineering school to get a better understanding of Toyota’s quality control process. His determination to succeed meant that by 1941 Honda was mass producing piston rings for Toyota.
Honda made his first complete motorcycle in 1949, and this was the first Honda product to go by the name of Dream. By 1964, the Honda Motor Company had grown to become one of the largest and most established manufacturers of motorbikes in the world.
The history of how Honda began manufacturing cars was equally as rapid and interesting, with the company’s first automobile being produced in 1963, known as the T360 mini pickup truck. A couple of months later Honda’s first actual car was launched, the S500 sports car, which was quickly followed by the T360.
During the subsequent decades, Honda went from strength to strength and now has assembly plants all around the world.
One of Honda’s biggest contemporary successes is the Honda Civic cars, a hybrid electric vehicle, which competes with the Toyota Prius. This is ironic when you think about Toyota’s influence on developing Honda initially.
Since 2008, Honda has increased its production of small cars and hybrid cars to meet the increasing consumer demand for smaller and more economical types of cars that are less taxing on the environment.
Honda certainly does seem to have the monopoly on fuel-efficient vehicles. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency list, five of the top ten most environmentally friendly cars between the years 1984 and 2010 were produced by Honda.
These five, energy-efficient cars include the 2000 – 2006 Honda Insight, the 1994 – 1995 Honda Civic Hatchback VX, the 1986 – 1987 Honda Civic Coupe HP, the 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid and the 2010 Honda Insight. The Civic GX has also been rated as the ‘greenest’ car in the United States for seven years running, reaffirming the manufacturer’s commitment to producing environmentally friendly vehicles going forward.