Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959

An Unknown Market - a New Challenge

Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959

Coping with a Sales Slump in the Mid-'60s

Honda motorcycles soon became a fixture on the American scene, and the sales figure for 1970 passed the 500,000 unit mark. The product line expanded, as well, from the 50 cc Honda Mini-Trail (export version of the Monkey/Dax) to large, high-performance 750 cc road bikes.

It was not easy getting there, however. By 1965, the U.S. was heavily engaged in the Vietnam War. Many young American men, representing the core market for the Honda 50, went off to battle in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Society showed signs of confusion as the financial markets began to wobble, and soon it was difficult to finance even a smaller purchase like a motorcycle. By the spring of 1966, sales of the 50 and other American Honda products were in a nosedive. The slump would continue for some time.

Distress in the American social fabric was commonly perceived as the reason for the slump. Others, however, held a different opinion, saying changes in fashion had diminished the novelty of Honda products.

In addition to a program of price cuts spurred by slashed advertising costs, American Honda began adding optional accessories to its products so that special models could be sold in different styles. Other measures taken to increase product demand included urging the Honda R&D Center to concentrate on the development of new products for the American consumer. As a result, American Honda was able to create a new market for motorcycle sales, launching another product-the Mini-Trail (U.S. version of the 90 cc Hunter Cub) in 1966. This was a motorcycle designed to meet the needs of people who had modified their Honda 50s to ride through wide-open and mountainous terrain.

The Honda Mini-Trail went on sale in 1968, and was instantly accepted as a bike so easy to ride, even a kid could do it. Families everywhere were seen enjoying their Mini-Trails on weekends outdoors.

Moreover, the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) hoped to employ the Mini-Trail as a tool to teach young people to actively engage in group activities so that they might grow into responsible adults. The YMCA believed that teaching kids to ride Mini-Trails in a safe and proper manner, and teaching them how to use them constructively, would help achieve this goal. American Honda supported the YMCA concept, agreeing to donate the requested number of thirty Mini-Trails. Additionally, the company provided service parts and accommodated the YMCA's request that mechanics classes be held.

As a result, kids who were not previously interested in YMCA activities began participating, and with great enthusiasm. The YMCA stated, in praise of the Mini-Trail project, that motorcycle activities had also helped prevent juvenile delinquencies. Newspapers and magazines began to feature the YMCA story in large pull-out sections, and these features created a major public reaction.

The program was a great success, and in October 1970, American Honda donated a total of 10,000 Mini-Trails - valued at about $2.5 million - to YMCA chapters across the country. The company's support of the Y-NYPUM (YMCA National Youth Project Using Minibikes) project would indeed continue.

Photo

In February 1971 at the Dealer's Convention in Washington, D.C., Soichiro Honda offers encouragement to Mr. Davis, left, who started the YMCA's minibike project, and a young participant. Seen in front is the Honda Mini-Trail.

The Challenging Spirit of Honda

A System that Fosters Expertise
  1. A System that Fosters ExpertiseA System that Fosters Expertise
  2. The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960
  3. Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification  / 1960Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification / 1960
A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
  1. A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the WorldA Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
  2. Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962
  3. Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966
  4. Introducing N360 / 1967Introducing N360 / 1967
  5. Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968
  6. Introducing the CVCC / 1972Introducing the CVCC / 1972
  7. Announcing the Civic / 1972Announcing the Civic / 1972
  8. Introducing the Accord / 1976Introducing the Accord / 1976
Marketing Globally, Producing Lacally
  1. Marketing Globally, Producing LocallyMarketing Globally, Producing Locally
  2. Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959
  3. Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963
  4. Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980
A Refreshing New Development
  1. A Refreshing New DevelopmentA Refreshing New Development
  2. Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973
Products Emerging From Technology and Innovation
  1. Products Emerging From Technology and InnovationProducts Emerging From Technology and Innovation
  2. The Oval Piston Engine / 1979The Oval Piston Engine / 1979
  3. The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968
  4. The Car Navigation System / 1981The Car Navigation System / 1981
  5. The Airbag System / 1987The Airbag System / 1987
  6. Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987
  7. The VTEC Engine / 1989The VTEC Engine / 1989
  8. The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977
  9. The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983
  10. The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969
  11. CG125 / 1975CG125 / 1975
  12. Road Pal / 1976Road Pal / 1976
  13. City / 1981City / 1981
  14. The NSX / 1990The NSX / 1990
  15. Odyssey / 1994Odyssey / 1994
  16. Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988
  17. The E300 Portable Generator / 1965The E300 Portable Generator / 1965
  18. The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978
  19. The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980
Production Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufacturing
  1. Production Technology: The Essence of Creative ManufaturingProduction Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufaturing
  2. Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974
  3. The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982
  4. Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981
  5. An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988
A Neverending Passion for Racing
  1. A Neverending Passion for RacingA Neverending Passion for Racing
  2. Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962
  3. Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979
  4. Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964
  5. Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983
  6. Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994
  7. The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997
Creativity - The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  1. Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  2. Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970
People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
  1. People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with NaturePeople and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
  2. Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992
  3. Creating Hometown Forests / 1977Creating Hometown Forests / 1977
  4. Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991

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