First-year Honda motor scooter sales in the U.S. amounted to about 1,700 units.
A little over 50 years ago a handful of Honda associates led by 39-year-old Kihachiro Kawashima began signing up U.S. motorcycle dealers, working out of a small storefront office in Los Angeles, California.
The Honda Super Cub (50), Dream and Benly motor scooters were the initial Honda products sold in the U.S. First-year sales amounted to about 1,700 units.
American Honda‘s Japanese parent company was only itself 11 years old when it decided to start the first overseas subsidiary, in keeping with the philosophy of Japan’s Ministry of Trade and Industry’s export-driven industrial policy.
From this meager start, and because of a series of bold decisions that surprised much more conservative auto companies, such as Toyota and Nissan, Honda has grown to be a global giant, largely because of its steady expansion in the large, open and profitable U.S. market.
Today, American Honda employs more than 27,000 associates who are active in the design, development, manufacturing, sale and servicing of Honda and Acura products. The offerings now include automobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft, power equipment, and a light jet aircraft that is under development.
At the podium, Kazuo Nakagawa, the first Honda of America Manufacturing (HAM) President.
Honda now operates 10 U.S. manufacturing plants, with two new plants under construction, along with 14 research & development facilities and more than 12 regional sales, parts and service, and finance offices around the country.
The company’s network of U.S. parts suppliers has 545 companies in 34 states, with annual purchases exceeding $17.5 billion in 2008.
Like all other automakers operating in the ongoing Global Great Recession, Honda is currently struggling. The parent company lost almost $2 billion in the last quarter, and is under extreme pressure to stay profitable going forward, although, thus far, it is doing a better job of this than rivals Nissan and Toyota, which have been posting far deeper losses for longer periods of time.