Honda Motor Company was founded by Soichiro Honda back in 1948. Initially, the company made motorbikes, as there was a shortage of gasoline in a cash-strapped postwar Japan. Early models were essentially bicycles that were fitted with small engines.
The bikes Honda produced gradually grew more sophisticated and included models like the Juno scooter, which was intended as Honda's version of the Vespas that were popular at the time. Honda didn't begin building automobiles until the early 1960s when the company sold cars exclusively in Japan.
Honda in America
Honda was quick to recognize its potential to succeed in the American market. To that end, the company established the American Honda Company in 1959. One of the first products the company offered stateside was the C100 Super Cup, a popular motorbike with no crossbar.
The first car Honda introduced to the U.S. auto market was the N600. The N600 was a larger engine version of the Honda N360, a Japanese model. The N600 was designed with an eye toward European and U.S. drivers; however, it largely failed to catch on Stateside.
Far more successful in the U.S. market, Honda Civic debuted in 1973. While still compact and ultra fuel efficient, the Civic provided more interior space than its predecessors. In addition to offering good fuel economy, the Civic was also affordably priced. The Civic went down well with American car buyers, paving the way for the Accord, which was released in 1976. Two years later, Honda introduced the Prelude, a compact two-door sport coupe with a twelve-valve 1750 cc engine.
Honda's profile continued to grow and diversify in the U.S. auto market throughout the 1980s. By introducing the Acura upscale brand, Honda became the first Japanese automaker to launch a luxury brand and began to manufacture Accords in the U.S. By decades end, the Accord would be the most popular car sold in the U.S.
Honda vehicles gradually grew in size throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Compact cars such as the Civic and the Accord continually grew in size until there were midsize and full-size versions of both available. Honda's slate of U.S. offerings now includes hybrids, SUVs, crossovers, sporty coupes, minivans, and more.
The Honda Civic could be considered to be definitive when it comes to the compact and subcompact segments of the U.S. automotive market. The Civic was initially introduced as an affordable, ultra-fuel-efficient compact. However, over the years, it became larger and more upmarket. Originally available as a two-door model or three-door hatchback in the 1970s; today, the Civic is available in two-door and four-door versions. The four-door Civic is also available as a hybrid.
Like the Civic, the Accord is also considered to be one of the definitive vehicles in its class. The Accord is available in coupe and sedan version, with a crossover Accord Crosstour coming in 2009. This allows it to command an even larger segment of the market as a whole, helping it to maintain its status as one of the most popular cars in the U.S.
Honda Fit is another vehicle currently produced by the company. A five-door hatchback, the Fit is a subcompact that was introduced in 2001. It's generally more affordable than the larger Civic but offers the same fuel economy and reliability in a sporty urban runabout package.
Some other current Honda models on the market include the Crosstour, which is a full-size crossover version of the Accord and was introduced in 2010. Additionally, the Honda Odyssey minivan is one of the best-selling vehicles in its class.
The Honda element is a compact crossover SUV that was introduced in 2003. Also released in the same year, was the larger and more rugged Honda Pilot, a midsize crossover SUV.
Honda Products and Technologies
Honda produced many innovative technologies over the years. During the 1990s, the company introduced the performance-oriented VTEC, variable valve timing system. Honda also excelled at creating sturdy, lightweight aluminum car bodies that promote safety, fuel economy, and performance.
American drivers take to vehicles like the Civic and the Accord en masse for decades now. This is in large part due to the affordability, reliability, and fuel efficiency. However, over the years, Honda evolved its brand to be about more than just fuel economy and reliability. Today's Hondas offer drivers more upmarket features and are just as popular for its style, performance, and overall quality.