top of page
  • Writer's pictureTim Jackson

Honda's motorcycles and cars goes global

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

The story of the creation and founding of Honda Motor Company is one of perseverance, innovation and hard work. The company's journey began in the aftermath of World War II, when Japan was struggling to rebuild its economy. Despite the challenges, a young engineer named Soichiro Honda had a vision of creating a company that would manufacture high-quality, long-lasting motorcycles for the Japanese market. Soichiro Honda was born in Iwata District, Shizyuoka, near Hamamatsu on November 17, 1906.

Honda spent his early childhood helping his father, Gihei Honda, a blacksmith, with his bicycle repair business. Mr. Honda's recollections of his youth mostly centered on the family's poverty. Five of his eight brothers and sisters died in childhood.

He went to school for only 10 years, and at age 15 struck out for Tokyo, eager to become a mechanic. He quickly got a job at an auto shop, only to discover that his only responsibility was babysitting. But the next year a tremendous earthquake destroyed Tokyo and Mr. Honda got his break: he filled in for mechanics who left their jobs to rebuild their homes.

Honda's early years were marked by setbacks and failures. He started his first company, the Honda Technical Research Institute, in 1946, but it was forced to close just two years later due to a lack of funding. Undeterred, Honda continued to develop his ideas, and in 1948 he founded the Honda Motor Company.

In the early years, Honda focused on producing small motorcycles that were reliable and affordable. His first model, the Honda Cub, was an instant success, and it quickly became the best-selling motorcycle in Japan. Over the next few years, Honda expanded the product line to include larger motorcycles and even scooters. The Honda Super Cub has been in continuous manufacture since 1958 with production surpassing 60 million in 2008, 87 million in 2014, and 100 million in 2017, the Super Cub is the most produced motor vehicle in history.

One of the key factors in Soichiro Honda's success was his commitment to innovation. He was constantly experimenting with new designs and technologies, and he was always looking for ways to make his products better. For example, in the 1960s, Honda introduced the first mass-produced four-stroke motorcycle engine, which was more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly than the two-stroke engines that were common at the time.

Another important factor in Honda's success was his focus on quality. Honda believed that if he could design products that were better than his competitors, customers would be willing to pay a premium for them. To achieve this, Honda implemented a rigorous quality control system that ensured that every product that left the factory met his high quality standards.

As business grew at Honda, he began to look beyond the Japanese market. In the 1960s, he began exporting his motorcycles to other countries, including the United States. The first Honda motorcycle dealership in the US was granted in 1959. At first, Honda faced stiff competition from established American motorcycle manufacturers, but his products quickly gained a reputation for reliability and quality.

One of the most popular Honda models in the United States was the Honda CB750, which was introduced in 1969. The CB750 was a groundbreaking motorcycle that featured a powerful four-cylinder engine, disc brakes and other advanced features that were not commonly found on motorcycles at the time. The CB750 was an instant hit, and it helped establish Honda as a major player in the American motorcycle market.

In the following years, Honda continued to expand its product line to include cars, ATVs and other types of vehicles. One of the most popular Honda cars in the United States was the Honda Civic, which was introduced in 1972. The Civic was a compact car that was fuel-efficient, reliable and affordable and it quickly became a favorite among American drivers.

Today, Honda is one of the largest and most successful automotive manufacturers in the world. It employs over 200,000 people and has manufacturing facilities in countries around the globe. Honda's success can be attributed to the vision and hard work of its founders, as well as the company's commitment to innovation, quality and customer satisfaction.

In 1989, Soichiro Honda was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame near Detroit.

Soichiro Honda's vision of creating a company that would manufacture high-quality motorcycles for the Japanese market has evolved over the years to include a wide range of products. The key to Honda's success has been its commitment to innovation, quality, and customer satisfaction. With a strong global presence and a reputation for reliability and quality, Honda is poised to continue its success for many years to come.


bottom of page