Today the name of Honda is synonymous in the auto industry with innovation and fuel economy. Since the introduction of its first hybrid-power vehicle in the US, the Honda Insight, technology from the Japanese motor giant has been growing in ambition and advancement every year: production of fuel-cell cars on a mass scale is set to commence in 2013. Not bad for a company which started on little more than some recycled electric motors and a distant dream.
From Two Wheels to Four
The Honda story really begins in the aftermath of World War II, when crowded streets and lack of fuel supplies meant Japan needed a speedy transport solution. Enter Soichiro Honda, the man who adapted a surplus lot of wartime motors to run push-bikes on nothing more than turpentine. Shortly after he began manufacturing his own 50cc engines, the Honda Motor Company was founded in 1948 and the first complete motorbikes were made.
Honda's motorcycles enjoyed widespread success after breaking the US market in the late 1950s with the Super Cub. It was time to create a car with a similar ethos; affordability for the masses. Early models might have revealed that different countries had different needs—the lightweight T360 pick-up never made it to American shores—but by the time the 1970s rolled around, the Honda N600 was successfully exported.
From Strength to Strength
With a more powerful 599cc engine, the 600 was nonetheless known as a 'mini car' and it was only with the first Honda Civic that the company was taken seriously in the automotive world. The 1973 model was a revelation in terms of fuel efficiency, which was good news for both the manufacturers and the market at a time of early energy crises in the Middle East. Honda's compound engines had tackled the problem of high exhaust emissions by 1975 and the following year saw the arrival of the Accord, later generations of which went on to be top sellers in the 1980s and 90s.
Over the years, Honda has redesigned and perfected its staples, releasing SUV versions of the Civic and the Odyssey minivan by the time the company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998. Honda produces the biggest range of engines in the world today, from lawnmowers to outboard motors and, of course, contemporary cars. If you or someone you love is in the market for a late model Honda, our friends from down under would like you to take a look at their vast selection of models from the Japanese automotive giant.
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