Honda passes the 100 million model production minestrone
It has taken just 53 years and the building of manufacturing facilities across five continents, but Honda has officially built its 100 millionth motorcar.
Unlike other Japanese car companies, Honda didn't start life as an existing huge conglomerate that wanted to add car-making to its existing portfolio of goods and products. Honda's global success grew out of one man's fascination with engines.
Soichiro Honda started what is now recognized as Honda after the Second World War as an engineering research facility focused on improvising motorized bicycles. By 1949 it was building its own Honda-branded motorbikes from the ground up, and by 1964 was the world's biggest motorcycle manufacturer.
It moved from two wheels to four in 1963 with the T360 compact pickup truck and the S500 sports car, both of which were powered by Honda motorcycle engines. Within a year it had built its first dedicated car production plant and launched the now iconic and highly collectable S600 roadster.
And while company founder Soichiro Honda stepped down in 1973, Honda has continued to innovate and take a different path from its fellow Japanese car companies.
In 1986 it became the first Japanese carmaker to establish a standalone luxury brand, Acura, which helped it break into the premium US car market. And four years later followed it up with the NSX, the first Japanese supercar and one with a chassis and suspension system co-developed by legendary Formula One driver, Ayrton Senna.
Honda is also home to the phenomenal VTEC engine with its ingenious variable valve lift and valve timing system that since 1991 has been allowing the best possible combination of performance and fuel economy. What's more, despite being a very complex engine, the company has to date never had a VTEC engine failure that was a result of a manufacturing flaw.
"The passion of our company founder who wanted to help people in their daily lives and pursue the joy of driving has been inherited by Honda associates as the original starting point of Honda automobile manufacturing," said Takahiro Hachigo, President and CEO of Honda Motor. "Striving to meet the next 100 million customers, Honda will continue delivering increasingly attractive products."
And there's a good chance that many of the next 100 million Hondas will be autonomous. On Thursday, the company again became the first Japanese carmaker to announce a partnership with Google's autonomous vehicle technology company, Waymo. The ultimate aim of the collaboration is to have a production car with highway self-driving capabilities on sale by 2020.