It was in September of 1959 that Japan’s Honda Motor Co. started selling motorcycles in the United States. Readers of a certain age will remember the tag line, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda,” that became part of the company’s early and very successful advertising campaign.
Those initial Hondas included the Dream, the Benly and the Honda 50 (Super Cub).
It wasn’t until 1962 that Honda even began building cars as well as two-wheelers, but by the end of 1969 it was selling its N600 sedan in the United States. A few years later came the oil crisis and emission controls and the Honda Civic CVCC and the rest, as they say, is history.
And now Honda has captured its North American history in the Honda Heritage Center, which was opened by various corporate and government officials Thursday in Marysville, Ohio. The facility will be open to the public in January.
“The new Honda Heritage Center is a collection of Honda dreams in the form of products that are responsible for millions of customer relationships,” Takuji Yamada, chief operating officer of Honda’s North American regional operations, was quoted in a news release.
“The great variety of products on display – including powersports, power equipment and automobiles, as well as aviation and robotics – together with the major milestones highlighted, tell the stories of Honda associates in Ohio and from throughout North America.”
The $35 million, 160,000-square-foot facility includes the museum, Honda Technical Development Center and offices for Honda North America. The new tech center, said Tom Shoupe, executive vice president of Honda of America Mfg. Inc., will enable the company’s North American operations to assume a larger role in product development and production, and not just in North America.
Honda has 39,000 employees and operates 16 major manufacturing facilities in North America, producing everything from power equipment (lawn mowers, tillers, generator engines) to all-terrain vehicles, Honda and Acura vehicles and, soon, airplanes.
The newest plant, the Performance Manufacturing Center under construction in Marysville, will be the sole production location in the world for the new Acura NSX supercar, which is to be unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
In addition to the cars and motorcycles on display, the museum includes a replica of the humanoid robot ASIMO and a HondaJet aircraft, the newest Honda that is scheduled for customer deliveries in 2015.