For a long time in Bangladesh, Honda used to mean a two-wheeled motorcycle. Honda’s Reliability, build quality, and fuel efficiency made it so popular among the people of Bangladesh that people used to think of it as a motorcycle. Meanwhile, this Japanese multinational conglomerate is well-known worldwide for automobiles, marine outboard motors, jet engines, and personal aircraft.
Although the company has been operating in business for almost 8 decades, currently holds a leading position in the global motorcycle market with a market share of 28 percent and has become the 6th largest company in the automobile market. In FY 2021-22, the company sold over 17 million motorcycles and over 4 million automobiles globally. In addition, Honda Aircraft Company has been in the top position in the world for five years from 2017 to 2021 in terms of light aircraft sales. Apart from this, the company also sold more than 6 million products in the power product segment in FY 2022. Currently, Honda has a total of more than 2 lacks (2,04,035) employees working in different countries around the world.
Honda founder Soichiro Honda was born on November 17, 1906, in the village of Kōmyō in Iwata District, Japan. Soichiro’s mother Mika Honda was a weaver, and his father Gihei Honda was a blacksmith, who also used to repair bicycles. From a young age, Soichiro helped his father repair bicycles in his workshop. Inattentive to studies, in 1922, Soichiro joined Art Shokai in Tokyo as an apprentice at the age of 15. Along with fixing cars, this company began to manufacture racing cars in 1923 and Soichiro worked there directly as well. Art Shokai’s first racing car model was the “Art Daimler”, powered by a second-hand Daimler engine. However, the second car named “Curtiss” was built with a second-hand engine taken from Jenny, an American Curtiss A1 biplane using another American car’s Mitchell chassis. The 17-year-old Soichiro mainly contributed most to the development of the car, which later won the fifth Japan Motor Car Championship on November 23, 1924, where Soichiro was the accompanying engineer.
Later, when his apprenticeship ended in April 1928, Soichiro established a new branch of Art Shokai in Hamamatsu. From his experience working there, Soichiro founded a piston ring manufacturing company called Tokai Seiki Heavy Industry in 1936 with a friend named Shichiro Kato to focus on manufacturing besides repairing.
At that time, he would stay up late at night developing piston rings after working all day at Art Shokai. But failing to develop a piston ring after several attempts, Soichiro enrolled at the Hamamatsu Industrial Institute to further improve his knowledge of metallurgy. After nearly two years of study, his manufacturing trials were finally successful, and in 1939 he left Art Shokai’s Hamamatsu branch to join Tokai Seiki as full-time president.
In the meantime, although Tokai Seiki received an order for 50 piston rings from the Japanese car manufacturing company Toyota Motor Co., Ltd, only three of the piston rings produced by the company could meet the required quality control standards. In such a situation, Soichiro Honda did not give up but took another two years to study manufacturing techniques at various universities and steelmaking companies in Japan, and finally was able to mass-produce piston rings for companies like Toyota and Nakajima Aircraft. By then, Tokai Seiki Heavy Industry’s employee count had grown to over 2,000. But, when Japan joined the Pacific War on December 7, 1941, Soichiro’s company was taken over by the Ministry of Munitions. Later, in 1942, Soichiro Honda was “downgraded” from president to senior managing director when the Toyota Company bought 40 percent of Tokai Seiki Heavy Industry’s equity. During the war, the Tokai Seki Yamashita plant in Hamamatsu was destroyed by successive air raids on Japan. The company suffered an even bigger disaster on January 13, 1945, when the Nankai earthquake also collapsed the Iwata plant in Mikawa District.
In October 1946, Soichiro Honda sold his remaining interests in the company to Toyota for ¥450,000 and established the Honda Technical Research Institute. Soichiro started manufacturing motorized bicycles with 500 two-stroke 50 cc Tohatsu war surplus radio generator engines with 12 workers in a small shack of 170 square feet. The new motorized bicycle was an instant hit, with huge orders coming in and engines running out of stock. Consequently, Sochiro Honda decided to develop original motorcycle engines, and in 1947, the company manufactured the first Honda brand A-type engine. The following year in 1948, Soichiro Honda established Honda Motor Co., Ltd by manufacturing this new auxiliary power bicycle. However, Honda’s first complete motorcycle with a frame and engine was the 1949 “D-Type”, the Dream motorcycle. In 1953, the company started the Power Products business in addition to motorcycles, introducing the H-Type farming engine, mainly for agricultural work, and later (1959) the F150 tiller. In 1958, the company launched another successful bike model, the Super Cub. When Honda started their business expansion in 1959, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. in Los Angeles, America. is established.
In 1960, the company established Honda R & D Co., Ltd in Wako, Saitama Prefecture, Japan as an independent entity. On the other hand, in 1962 the company started motorcycle production by establishing its first overseas production plant in Belgium. In addition to manufacturing motorcycles and power products, Honda also ventured into the automobile industry that year and released their first sports car, the S500. The following year, the company released the T360 model mini-truck. By 1964 Honda Motor Company Ltd became the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. In addition, in that year, Honda started manufacturing a four-stroke outboard marine engine for the first time and by 1967 introduced Honda’s marine engine in the US market. Meanwhile, the 4-cylinder Honda CB750 model motorcycle released in 1969 was able to add new dimensions to the then mainstream motorcycle market.
Over the next few decades, Honda focused on product line expansion and innovation and began exporting its operations and products to many countries around the world. Following this, in 1972 the company introduced the world’s first Low-Carbon emission automobile engine, the CVCC engine, and in 1981 the world’s first car navigation system. In 1982, Honda became the first Japanese manufacturing company to begin vehicle production in North America. Later, in 1986, Honda began researching compact aircraft and aircraft jet engines in addition to manufacturing motorcycles, automobiles, and power products. On March 27 of the same year, American Honda Co., Inc. launched a new luxury car brand, Acura, to capture America’s luxury vehicle market.
In 1990, the company launched the Acura NSX, the world’s first all-aluminum body automobile. In 1995, the company established Honda Aircraft Company intending to manufacture its aircraft. In October 2000, Honda introduced their first humanoid robot, ASIMO – Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, which became available in the market in 2005. In October 2004, Honda Aero, Inc. and General Electric Company(GE) joint venture to establish GE Honda Aero Engines LLC in a 50:50 shareholder structure.
In 2012, the production of Honda’s power product segment reached the milestone of 100 million units, and in 2014, the production of the motorcycle segment reached the milestone of 300 million units. The company generated sales revenue of approximately $115 (114.66) billion that year. In 2015, the HondaJet aircraft, manufactured by Honda Aircraft Company, began deliveries after receiving Type Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. Honda’s worldwide automobile production in 2016 and Super Cub series motorcycle production in 2017 reached the milestone of 100 million units. In 2018, the premium version of the HondaJet, the HondaJet Elite, was introduced. Honda’s total sales revenue that year was about $143 (142.95) billion. In 2020, Honda launched the first electric car in its automobile segment, the “Honda e”, and in 2021, the world’s first Level 3 Autonomous Honda Legend went on sale. At the end of that year, the company’s revenue decreased slightly to about $128 (127.75) billion. Although Hodder’s overall sales were higher in fiscal 2022 than in fiscal 2021, the company’s revenue fell to $121 billion that year due to global inflation starting from the Russia-Ukraine war.
Honda mainly operates its business in three segments namely – Motorcycle, Automobile, and Power Products.
Honda’s largest business segment is the motorcycle sector. Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has sold a total of 440 million units of motorcycles since its inception in 1948. Globally, the company produces 20 million units of motorcycles every year at its 35 motorcycle production facilities in 21 countries. Besides, in terms of sales, the company has sold more than 15 million (15,132,000) units of motorcycles worldwide in FY 2021 as well through 30,000 sales outlets. Whereas, Yamaha, another popular motorcycle brand in the world, sold more than 4 million units of motorcycles. Even, in the first 10 months of 2022, Honda is leading the global motorcycle market with a 28 percent market share by selling a total of 14.5 million units of motorcycles, which is followed by the next three motorcycle manufacturers Hero Motors (4.6m), Yadea (4.5m), and Yamaha (4m). Its combined 13 million units are more than motorcycle sales.
Honda’s automobile business segment took off in 1962 with the release of the S500 sports car model. Honda, which has been operating in the automobile segment for the past 6 decades, has become the world’s 6th largest automobile manufacturer by selling nearly 4.5 million automobiles in the fiscal year 2021. Honda has been able to sell these 4 million cars with only eight models, including the Accord, Civic, CR-V, Pilot, and Passport, across five segments: SUVs & Crossovers, sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, and trucks. Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai Kia, General Motors, and Stellantis, on the other hand, are leading the rankings, each offering multiple brands in their portfolios, and multiple models in the segment. For example, Toyota owns the Lexus brand alongside multiple models in several segments under its own car brand Toyota, and the company has stakes in Subaru and Suzuki. Again, Volkswagen Group sells automobiles from brands like Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Ducati, and Porsche in addition to Volkswagen brand cars. All these brands are again offering multiple models of cars in different segments. But, among these top automobile manufacturers, Honda is the only company that has been operating in the automobile market through only two brands, Honda and Acura, for the past 6 decades. The company managed to sell more than 4 million vehicles globally in FY 2022 as well. Besides, Honda unveiled the Electric Vehicle prototype in a joint venture with another Japanese conglomerate, Sony, at the CES event held in January 2023. Sony Honda Mobility is going to launch this Afeela brand EV in the market by 2026.
|Ranking||Brands||Unit Sales (2021)|
|3||Hyundai Kia||6.67 Million|
Marine & Jet Engines
Apart from motorcycles and automobiles, Honda is one of the renowned multi-purpose engine manufacturers in the world. Engines manufactured by Honda are well-received worldwide for their performance, reliability, durability, fuel efficiency, and lower carbon emissions. In addition to manufacturing vehicle engines, Honda also manufactures portable, mid-range, high-power, and jet-drive marine outboard engines for small personal boats, yachts, and small draft private ships. Honda Marine has been supplying foldable and rigid inflatable boats manufacturer BRIG USA with marine engines for every model in its lineup since 2016. In addition, American yacht manufacturing company San Juan Yachts has been using Honda Marine BF250 Outboard engines in their SJ32 model yachts since 2019. Honda ranks among the top outboard marine engine manufacturers in the world.
A joint venture between Honda and General Electric Company – GE Honda Aero Engines LLC designs, develops and manufactures world-class jet engines. These engines are used in HondaJet aircraft as well as sold to other aircraft manufacturers around the world. The company also manufactures and sells three models of personal light aircraft: HondaJet, HondaJet Elite, and HondaJet 2600 Concept. In the last five years, that is, from 2017 to 2021, the company was able to sell the lightest aircraft in the world five times in a row, where the company sold a total of 37 aircraft in 2021 alone. In fact, HondaJet Fleet’s delivered aircraft in the light aircraft segment has already crossed 200. Additionally, in January 2022, the aircraft in HondaJet’s global fleet reached the milestone of 1 lakh flight hours. In addition to this, in 2022, Honda Aircraft Company was able to receive the highest honor “Diamond level AMT employer award” from the Federal Aviation Administration’s William (Bill) O’Brien Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards program.
Apart from a wide range of marine and jet engines, Honda also manufactures a range of generators, engines, and consumer equipment which are operated under their Power Products segment. Generators manufactured by Honda are used for power backup in large manufacturing factories, hospitals, residential buildings, and educational institutions around the world. Apart from this, portable generators made by Honda are used for various purposes like picnics, camping, and long tours. Apart from lawnmowers, tillers, and trimmers of various specifications and ranges, Honda also sells water pumps and snow blowers of various ranges. Apart from this, the required parts for any type of Honda equipment are also available from the Honda online parts catalog. Along with equipment, for the past 7 decades, Honda has been manufacturing 30 models of engines in 6 basic series for 3000 different product applications like pressure washers, lawnmowers, and rescue and construction equipment. As a result, various types of manufacturing companies in the world are using the machines and marine engines made by Honda in their products. British lawnmower manufacturing company Mountfield is using Honda engines in their gasoline lawnmowers and roller mowers. Besides, Husqvarna brand lawnmowers also use Honda engines. In FY2022, Honda sold more than 6 (6.2m) million units of products globally from this segment.