In 1963, Honda entered the Japanese automobile market as the last major domestic carmaker by launching the T360 mini truck and the S500 sports car in quick succession. Both vehicles came equipped with Japan's first DOHC engine; the innovative and sophisticated engine technology of the S500 in particular garnered a reputation as "the engine with clockwork precision." The very next year Honda made the bold leap into Formula One World Championship (F1) racing under the watchword of "honing Honda's leading edge in technology at the pinnacle." Honda scored its first victory in 1965, only its second year in F1 racing. Since then, the company has continued to apply a variety of technologies cultivated in F1 racing to its mass production models. In 1967, Honda launched the N360 mini passenger car, the first of several N series models. These models drove Honda's sales growth in Japan by gaining widespread popularity for their comfortable cabin space, which was designed according to Honda's original M/M concept (man maximum and machine minimum—or maximize space for occupants, minimize space required for machinery). M/M lives on in Honda's automobile manufacturing today. In 1972, Honda's CVCC engine became the world's first engine to meet the emissions standards of the U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970, regarded as the most stringent standards in the world at the time. The car that bore the CVCC engine, the Civic, went on to world renown and popularity. A result of Honda's challenging goal to achieve both environmental performance and output, our initiative and technology live on in more recent features such as the i-VTEC engine installed on many of today's Honda models. Creating new value has been another Honda strength, allowing the Odyssey to successfully enlarge the minivan market. Honda has introduced a diversity of products with distinctive and advanced characteristics.
Building products close to the customer makes it possible to increase employment in the region and to contribute to various social and economic endeavors in the local community. In line with this thinking, Honda in 1982 became the first Japan-based automaker to start automobile manufacturing in the U.S. Honda thoroughly localized its production through proactive use of locally-built equipment to build the plant and locally-procured parts and materials for the vehicles. In this way Honda took on the challenge of promoting thoroughly localized operations, its actions serving as a benchmark for other Japanese companies expanding global operations. In 1997, Honda launched an exclusive Accord model for the North American market, which was developed and produced as an "all-American" product in every sense of the word. In 2009, Honda achieved cumulative automobile production of 20 million vehicles in North America. As of April 2012, Honda had a total of 27 production operations in 17 countries and regions across the globe.