Honda is the world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles as well as the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines measured by volume, producing more than 14 million internal combustion engines each year.Nissan in 2001 to become the second-largest Japanese automobile manufacturer. As of August 2008, Honda surpassed Chrysler as the fourth largest automobile manufacturer in the United States. Honda is the sixth largest automobile manufacturer in the world. Honda surpassed [update]
Honda was the first Japanese automobile manufacturer to release a dedicated luxury brand, Acura in 1986. Aside from their core automobile and motorcycle businesses, Honda also manufactures garden equipment, marine engines, personal watercraft and power generators, amongst others. Since 1986, Honda has been involved with artificial intelligence/robotics research and released their ASIMO robot in 2000. They have also ventured into aerospace with the establishment of GE Honda Aero Engines in 2004 and the Honda HA-420 HondaJet, scheduled to be released in 2011. Honda spends about 5% of its revenues into R&D.
Honda's global lineup consists of the Fit, Civic, Accord, Insight, CR-V, and Odyssey. An early proponent of developing vehicles to cater to different needs and markets worldwide, Honda's lineup varies by country and may feature vehicles exclusive to that region. A few examples are the latest Acura TL luxury sedan and the Ridgeline, Honda's first light-duty pickup truck. Both were engineered primarily in North America and are exclusively produced and sold there.
The Honda Civic is a line of compact cars developed and manufactured by Honda. In North America, the Civic is the second-longest continuously running nameplate from a Japanese manufacturer; only its perennial rival, the Toyota Corolla, introduced in 1968, has been in production longer. The Civic, along with the Accord and Prelude, comprised Honda's vehicles sold in North America until the 1990s, when the model lineup was expanded. Having gone through several generational changes, the Civic has become larger and more upmarket, and it currently slots between the Fit and Accord.
Honda increased global production in September 2008 to meet demand for small cars in the U.S. and emerging markets. The company is shuffling U.S. production to keep factories busy and boost car output, while building fewer minivans and sport utility vehicles as light truck sales fall.
Its first entrance into the pickup segment, the lightduty Ridgeline, won Truck of the Year from Motor Trend magazine in 2006 (also in 2006, the redesigned Civic won Car of the Year from the magazine, giving Honda a rare double win of Motor Trend honors).
In the U.S., five of EPA's top ten most fuel-efficient cars from 1984 to 2010 comes from Honda, more than any other automakers. The five models are: 2000-2006 Honda Insight(53 mpg combined), 1986-87 Honda Civic Coupe HF (46 mpg combined), 1994-95 Honda Civic hatchback VX (43 mpg combined), 2006- Honda Civic Hybrid (42 mpg combined), and 2010- Honda Insight (41 mpg combined).(mpg revised in accordance with 2008 regulation change)
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Honda is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Japan and has been since it started production in 1955. At its peak in 1982, Honda manufactured almost 3 million motorcycles. By 2006 this figure had reduced to around 550,000 but was still higher than its three domestic competitors.
During the 1960s, when it was a small manufacturer, Honda broke out of the Japanese motorcycle market and began exporting to the U.S. Taking Honda’s story as an archetype of the smaller manufacturer entering a new market already occupied by highly dominant competitors, the story of their market entry, and their subsequent huge success in the U.S. and around the world, has been the subject of some academic controversy. Competing explanations have been advanced to explain Honda’s strategy and the reasons for their success.
The first of these explanations was put forward when, in 1975, Boston Consulting Groupeconomies of scale and learning curve effects. It blamed the decline of the British motorcycle industry on the failure of British managers to invest enough in their businesses to profit from economies of scale and scope. (BCG) was commissioned by the UK government to write a report explaining why and how the British motorcycle industry had been out-competed by its Japanese competitors. The report concluded that the Japanese firms, including Honda, had sought a very high scale of production (they had made a large number of motorbikes) in order to benefit from
The second explanation was offered in 1984 by Richard Pascale, who had interviewed the Honda executives responsible for the firm’s entry into the U.S. market. As opposed to the tightly focused strategy of low cost and high scale that BCG accredited to Honda, Pascale found that their entry into the U.S. market was a story of “miscalculation, serendipity, and organizational learning” – in other words, Honda’s success was due to the adaptability and hard work of its staff, rather than any long term strategy. For example, Honda’s initial plan on entering the U.S. was to compete in large motorcycles, around 300 cc. It was only when the team found that the scooters they were using to get themselves around their U.S. base of San Francisco attracted positive interest from consumers that they came up with the idea of selling the Super Cub.
The most recent school of thought on Honda’s strategy was put forward by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad in 1989. Creating the concept of core competencies with Honda as an example, they argued that Honda’s success was due to its focus on leadership in the technology of internal combustion engines. For example, the high power-to-weight ratio engines Honda produced for its racing bikes provided technology and expertise which was transferable into mopeds. Honda's entry into the U.S. motorcycle market during the 1960s is used as a case study for teaching introductory strategy at business schools worldwide.
It created the first luxury Japanese car (1985 Legend) and motorcycle (2006 Gold Wing bikes) equipped with an airbag, as well as the first mid-size pickup truck with independent rear suspension (2006 Ridgeline).
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Honda engines powered the entire 33-car starting field of the 2010 Indianapolis 500 and for the fifth consecutive race, there were no engine-related retirements during the running of the Memorial Day Classic.
Honda, despite being known as an engine company, has never built a V8 for passenger vehicles. In the late 1990s, the company resisted considerable pressure from its American dealers for a V8 engine (which would have seen use in top-of-the-line Honda SUVs and Acuras), with American Honda reportedly sending one dealer a shipment of V8 beverages to silence them.
ASIMO is the part of Honda's Research & Development robotics program. It is the eleventh in a line of successive builds starting in 1986 with Honda E0 moving through the ensuing Honda E series and the Honda P series. Weighing 54 kilograms and standing 130 centimeters tall, ASIMO resembles a small astronaut wearing a backpack, and can walk on two feet in a manner resembling human locomotion, at up to 6 km/h (3.7 mph). ASIMO is the world's only humanoid robot able to ascend and descend stairs independently. However, human motions such as climbing stairs are difficult to mimic with a machine, which ASIMO has demonstrated by taking two plunges off a staircase.
Honda's robot ASIMO (see below) as an R&D project brings together expertise to create a robot that walks, dances and navigates steps. 2010 marks the year Honda has developed a machine capable of reading a users brainwaves to move ASIMO. The system uses a helmet covered with electroencephalography and near-infrared spectroscopy sensors that monitor electrical brainwaves and cerebral blood flow—signals that alter slightly during the human thought process. The user thinks of one of a limited number of gestures it wants from the robot, which has been fitted with a Brain Machine Interface
Honda has also pioneered new technology in its HA-420 HondaJet that allows new levels of reduced drag, increased aerodynamics and fuel efficiency thus reducing operating costs.
Honda has also built a Downhill racing bike, known as the Honda RN-01. Honda has taken on several people to pilot the bike, among them is Greg Minnaar. The team is known as Team G Cross Honda. The key feature of this bike is the gearbox, which replaces the standard Derailleur found on most bikes.
Honda has been active in motorsports, like Motorcycle Grand Prix, Superbike racing and others.
Honda entered Formula One as a constructor for the first time in the 1964 season at the German Grand Prix with Ronnie Bucknum at the wheel. 1965 saw the addition of Richie Ginther to the team, who scored Honda's first point at the Belgian Grand Prix, and Honda's first win at the Mexican Grand Prix. 1967 saw their next win at the Italian Grand Prix with John Surtees as their driver. In 1968, Jo Schlesser was killed in a Honda RA302 at the French Grand Prix. This racing tragedy, coupled with their commercial difficulties selling automobiles in the United States, prompted Honda to withdraw from all international motorsport that year.
After a learning year in 1965, Honda-powered Brabhams dominated the 1966 French Formula Two championship in the hands of Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme. As there was no European Championship that season, this was the top F2 championship that year. In the early 1980s Honda returned to F2, supplying engines to Ron Tauranac's Ralt team. Tauranac had designed the Brabham cars for their earlier involvement. They were again extremely successful. In a related exercise, John Judd's Engine Developments company produced a turbo "Brabham-Honda" engine for use in IndyCar racing. It won only one race, in 1988 for Bobby Rahal at Pocono.
Honda returned to Formula One in 1983, initially with another Formula Two partner, the Spirit team, before switching abruptly to Williams in 1984. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Honda powered cars won six consecutive Formula One Constructors Championships. WilliamsF1 won the crown in 1986 and 1987. Honda switched allegiance again in 1988. New partners Team McLaren won the title in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991. Honda withdrew from Formula One at the end of 1992, although the related Mugen-Honda company maintained a presence up to the end of 1999, winning four races with Ligier and Jordan Grand Prix.
Honda debuted in the CART IndyCar World Series as a works supplier in 1994. The engines were far from competitive at first, but after development, the company powered six consecutive drivers championships. In 2003, Honda transferred its effort to the rival IRLIndyCar Series. In 2004, Honda-powered cars overwhelmingly dominated the IndyCar Series, winning 14 of 16 IndyCar races, including the Indianapolis 500, and claimed the IndyCar Series Manufacturers' Championship, Drivers' Championship and Rookie of the Year titles. In 2006, Honda became the sole engine supplier for the IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500. In the 2006 Indianapolis 500, for the first time in Indianapolis 500 history, the race was run without a single engine problem.
During 1998, Honda considered returning to Formula One with their own team. The project was aborted after the death of its technical director, Harvey Postlethwaite. Honda instead came back as an official engine supplier to British American Racing (BAR) and Jordan Grand Prix. Honda bought a stake in the BAR team in 2004 before buying the team outright at the end of 2005, becoming a constructor for the first time since the 1960s. Honda won the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix with driver Jenson Button.
It was announced on 5 December 2008, that Honda would be exiting Formula One with immediate effect due to the 2008 global economic crisis. The team was sold to former team principal Ross Brawn, renamed Brawn GP and subsequently Mercedes GP.
Honda became an official works team in the British Touring Car Championship in 2010.
Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) was formed in 1982. The company combines participation in motorcycle races throughout the world with the development of high potential racing machines. Its racing activities are an important source for the creation of leading edge technologies used in the development of Honda motorcycles. HRC also contributes to the advancement of motorcycle sports through a range of activities that include sales of production racing motorcycles, support for satellite teams, and rider education programs.
Soichiro Honda, being a race driver himself, could not stay out of international motorsport. In 1959, Honda entered five motorcycles into the Isle of Man TT race, the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world. While always having powerful engines, it took until 1961 for Honda to tune their chassis well enough to allow Mike Hailwood to claim their first Grand Prixcc classes. Hailwood would later pick up their first senior TT wins in 1966 and 1967. Honda's race bikes were known for their "sleek & stylish design" and exotic engine configurations, such as the 5-cylinder, 22,000 rpm, 125 cc bike and their 6-cylinder 250 cc and 380 cc bikes. victories in the 125 and 250
In 1979, Honda returned to Grand Prix motorcycle racing with their exotic, monocoque-framed, four-stroke NR500. The NR500 featured elongated cylinders each with 8 valves and with connecting rods in pairs, in an attempt to comply with the FIM rules which limited engines to four cylinders. Honda engineered the elongated cylinders in an effort to provide the valveinant two-stroke racers. Unfortunately, it seemed Honda tried to accomplish too much at one time and the experiment failed. For the 1982 season, Honda debuted their first two stroke race bike, the NS500 and in 1983, Honda won their first 500 cc Grand Prix World Championship with Freddie Spencer. Since then, Honda has become a dominant marque in motorcycle Grand Prix racing, winning a plethora of top level titles with riders such as Valentino Rossi and Mick Doohan.
In motocross, Honda has claimed six motocross world championships. In the World Enduro Championship, Honda has captured six titles, most recently with Stefan Merriman in 2003 and with Mika Ahola in 2007 and 2008.
Electric and alternative fuel vehicles
Compressed natural gas
The Honda Civic GX is the only purpose-built natural gas vehicle (NGV) commercially available in some parts of the U.S. The Honda Civic GX first appeared in 1998 as a factory-modified Civic LX that had been designed to run exclusively on compressed natural gas. The car looks and drives just like a contemporary Honda Civic LX, but does not run on gasoline. In 2001, the Civic GX was rated the cleanest-burning internal combustion engine in the world by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
First leased to the City of Los Angeles, in 2005, Honda started offering the GX directly to the public through factory trained dealers certified to service the GX. Before that, only fleets were eligible to purchase a new Civic GX. In 2006, the Civic GX was released in New York, making it the second state where the consumer is able to buy the car. Home refueling is available for the GX with the addition of the Phill Home Refueling Appliance
Honda's Brazilian subsidiary launched flexible-fuel versions for the Honda Civic and Honda FithydrousE100) and E20-E25 gasoline. Initially, and in order to test the market preferences, the carmaker decided to produce a limited share of the vehicles with flex-fuel engines, 33 percent of the Civic production and 28 percent of the Fit models. Also, the sale price for the flex-fuel version was higher than the respective gasoline versions, around US$1,000 premium for the Civic, and US$650 for the Fit, despite the fact that all other flex-fuel vehicles sold in Brazil had the same tag price as their gasoline versions. In July 2009, Honda launched in the Brazilian market its third flexible-fuel car, the Honda City. in late 2006. As others Brazilian flex-fuel vehicles, these models run on any blend of ethanol
During the last two months of 2006, both flex-fuel models sold 2,427 cars against 8,546 gasoline-powered automobiles, to 41,990 flex-fuel cars in 2007, and reaching 93,361 in 2008. Due to the success of the flex versions, by early 2009 a hundred percent of Honda's automobile production for the Brazilian market is now flexible-fuel, and only a small percentage of gasoline version is produced in Brazil for exports.
In March 2009, Honda launched in the Brazilian market the first flex-fuel motorcycle in the world. Produced by its Brazilian subsidiary Moto Honda da Amazônia, the CG 150 Titan Mix is sold for around US$2,700.
In late 1999, Honda launched the first commercial hybrid electric car sold in the U.S. market , the Honda Insight, just one month before the introduction of the Toyota Prius, and initially sold for US$20,000. The first-generation Insight was produced from 2000 to 2006 and had a fuel economy of 70 miles per US gallon (3.4 L/100 km; 84 mpg-imp) for the EPA's highway rating, the most fuel-efficient mass-produced car at the time. Total global sales for the Insight amounted to only around 18,000 vehicles.
Honda introduced the second-generation Insight in its home nation of Japan in February 2009, and released it in other markets through 2009 and in the U.S. market in April 2009. At $19,800 as a five-door hatchback it will be the least expensive hybrid available in the U.S. Honda expects to sell 200,000 of the vehicles each year, with half of those sales in the United States.
Since 2002, Honda has also been selling the Honda Civic Hybrid (2003 model) in the U.S. market,. It was followed by the Honda Accord Hybrid, offered in model years 2005 through 2007. Sales of the Honda CR-Z began in Japan in February 2010, becoming Honda's third hybrid electric car in the market.
Hydrogen fuel cell
In Takanezawa, Japan, on 16 June 2008, Honda Motors produced the first assembly-line FCX Clarity, a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. More efficient than a gas-electric hybrid vehicle, the FCX Clarity combines hydrogen and oxygen from ordinary air to generate electricity for an electric motor.
The vehicle itself does not emit any pollutants and its only by products are heat and water. The FCX Clarity also has an advantage over gas-electric hybrids in that it does not use an internal combustion engine to propel itself. Like a gas-electric hybrid, it uses a lithium ion battery to assist the fuel cell during acceleration and capture energy through regenerative braking, thus improving fuel efficiency. The lack of hydrogen filling stations throughout developed countries will keep production volumes low. Honda will release the vehicle in groups of 150. California is the only U.S. market with infrastructure for fueling such vehicle, though the number of stations is still limited. Building more stations is expensive, as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) granted $6.8 million for four H2 fueling stations, costing $1.7 million USD each.
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