Honda Motor Company

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(established 1946)

Founded in Hammamatsu by Soichiro Honda as the Honda Technical Research Institute, the company began its life in motorcycle manufacture at a time when public transport systems were inadequate and fuel prices high. Following its redesignation as the Honda Motor Company in 1948, the Honda Dream Type D motorcycle was the first machine with engine and frame produced by the same manufacturer. The Honda Cub F (1952), with its distinctive red engine and white fuel tank, attracted widespread attention and was even sold by catalogue. The company also moved into the motor scooter sector, introducing the Juno 200 cc model as a competitor to the Italian Vespa copies being manufactured in Japan. By the mid‐1950s Honda had become a dominant force in Japanese motorcycle production, beginning a programme of overseas expansion from 1959 with the establishment of the American Honda Motor Co. Instrumental in such success had been the Super Cub motorcycle, an economic, practical, and lightweight machine which was designed for use by both men and women. Launched in 1958, it became so successful in the market place that analogies were drawn with the Volkswagen Beetle and the Ford Model T. In 1959 it was the first Honda motorcycle sold in the United States, with other overseas sales companies being established in Europe. Furthermore, the company's profile was considerably enhanced over the following decades by success in motorcycle racing. In the early 1960s Honda also began to manufacture small four‐wheeled, front‐wheel drive vehicles such as the N360. Honda began to penetrate the US automobile market in 1969. However, the company's reputation in this field was not cemented until the compact, economically priced Honda Civic was launched in 1972, followed by the Accord in 1976. From 1983 onwards the company opened production lines outside Japan in the USA and Europe.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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