The history and unknown story of Honda Motor Co.

acura cub f type honda jet

Do you know Honda's founder story and difference from TOYOTA?

  • The founder Soichiro is a self-made man as well as Masararu Ibuka founded SONY.
  • He could not make an airplane in his lifetime, but his dream passed to young members.
  • Honda Motor Co. has some features in contrast to TOYOTA.

Honda Motor Co.(NYSE:HMC) is a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer and is the one of the Japanese BIG3(Toyota, Honda, Nissan). It is known for ACURA which is a luxury car in USA. Its sales of motorcycle is the top in the world though its sales of cars is eighth in the world. Honda makes not only cars and motorcycles but also small farm machine, small airplane HondaJet, biped walking robot ASIMO and more. It is different from TOYOTA in that it makes these products.

Honda Motor Co. was founded by Soichiro Honda. He is a self-made man as well as Masararu Ibuka who founded SONY in Japan. Socihiro was born in Hamamatsu city of Shizuoka prefecture. He was shocked by air show and wanted making an airplane when he was a child. He started working at the car maintenance company(the current company's name is ART METAL MFG Co.) when he was 16 years old. He thought that he should learn how to make a car before making an airplane.

6 years later, he was set up in his own business by his boss. He managed not only car maintenance shop but also automotive parts factories. His business was going smoothly, but his factories were destroyed by Mikawa earthquake in 1945. He sold his all stocks and rested himself for a year.

He recovered and founded the Honda R&D Co. in 1946 to make car and motorcycle. He still wanted to make a airplane based on technology of car engine. Honda R&D Co. is the predecessor of the Honda Motor Co., its name changed in 1948. It developed and sold Cub F type which was a motor-assisted bicycle. It was the first great hit for Honda Motor Co.. Honda Motor Co. developed Super Cub based on Cub in 1958. It is the long-seller motorcycle from 1958, its cumulative shipments achieved one hundred million in 2017.

Cub F Type

Honda Motor Co. began to sell its first car T360 in 1963 and took part in F1. Later years, it sold sports car S600 and commercial vehicle L700. Light passenger car N360 was especially a great hit in 1967. In the following year, Honda Motor Co. began to develop low pollution engine for Air Pollution Control Law in Japan. This project was hard and difficult, but low polution engine called CVCC engine was developed 6 years later. It was the first engine satisfied by Muskie Act in USA. That was very surprised for other automobile manufacturers because Muskie Act's environment standards was too strict.

The sales of Honda Motor Co. achieved 1 trillion yen(about 10 billion dollars) in 1980. It completed the first automotive navigation system in the following year. That was also surprised for other automobile manufacturers. Soichiro Honda resigned a board member in 1983, and died 5 years later. A grand memorial ceremony for Soichiro was not held. He left a will saying "I am a founder of automobile manufacturer. I can not make a traffic jam because of memorial ceremony." He could not make an airplane in his lifetime, but his dream passed to young members. They succeeded in flying an airplane called Honda Jet in 2003.

Honda jet

Nowadays, Honda Motor Co. makes not only motorcycle and cars but also other machines. It makes lawn mower, cultivator, snow blower, electric generator and outboard motor as life creation business. It also makes and sells ATV(All-terrain vehicle) and personal watercraft only in USA.

By the way, Honda Motor Co. has some features in contrast to TOYOTA though both of them are Japanese big 3. One of them is that Honda family is not inclued in board members. It is said that Soichiro did not like founder's family manage a company. He also did not like company name including his last name. On the other hand, founder's family often assumes a president of TOYOTA.

Other than that, there is this kind of story too. Honda Motor Co. was suggested that Suzuka city changed its name to Honda city by society of this city. Suzuka city's finances was very good because Honda's factories in Suzuka city. Soichiro rejected this suggestion with saying "It is impertinent to change the city name to company name. The city name has a very long history." On the other hand, TOYOTA agreed the suggestion that Koromo city changed its name to Toyota city.

Honda Motor Co. is listed in Tokyo Stock Exchange and NYSE(TYO:7267, NYSE:HMC). You can invest in its stocks through many ETFs, MAXIS Nikkei 225 ETF(NKY), iShares MSCI Japan ETF(EWJ), Wisdomtree Japan Hedged ETF(DXJ) and more.