The Car That Continues to Evolve by Maintaining Harmony with the Times, People, and Society
The Honda Accord - first introduced in 1976 as a three-door hatchback - has, in the intervening 23 years, produced a series of six outstanding model generations. The key theme in its development, however, has always been the same; to ensure harmony between the car and society.
The second-generation Accord family introduced in September 1981 incorporated model changes reflecting Honda's shift in emphasis toward the 4-door sedan. This was because the first-generation 4-door model had, upon its market introduction, received high marks comparable to those of the preceding 3-door model. Although sales growth had been a bit more gradual, the sedan was demonstrating steadily increasing sales. In fact, it was already outselling the hatchback. Therefore, the decision was made in view of these figures, proving that the Accord had established its position in the 4-door market both in Japan, as well as the U.S.
The Vigor 4-door sedan was introduced to the Japanese market as a sister model upon the release of the second-generation Accord. Moreover, the release of these new models was timed to the introduction of Honda's new three-channel sales system. Subsequently, the third-generation Accord was introduced in 1985, and here, the new three-door Aerodeck with extended roofline was added for sale in Japan and Europe, rather than the familiar 3-door hatchback. The fourth generation released in 1989 saw a further expansion in the model line, with the Accord Inspire, Vigor, and Ascot debuting together. The expanded variations were in line with increasingly diverse and sophisticated market needs.
In the early 1980s Honda had moved to localize production in the U.S., in keeping with the philosophy of "building products in the markets where they are sold." Subsequently, Honda of America Manufacturing (HAM) turned out the first locally made second-generation Accord in November 1982. In fact, this was the first car Honda produced in the U.S.
Along with production, Honda also promoted the localization of research and development activities by reorganizing the R&D branch in California and establishing Honda Research of America, Inc. (HRA) in September of the following year. The Accord two-door coupe, for which production began at HAM in 1988, became the company's first locally developed model, with the entire design process performed by HRA. Following the two-door coupe, Honda developed a five-door Accord wagon in 1991 - again through the efforts of HRA - thus extending the Accord family in the U.S.
Honda began exporting the HAM-manufactured Accord Coupe to Japan in 1988. As the first Japanese nameplate U.S.-made car imported to Japan, the move was reported in a sensational manner by the world's media. In the first year alone, more than 10,000 U.S.-made Accords were imported and sold in Japan. The U.S.-version Accord wagon, which began importing to Japan in April 1991, also became a popular model, due in part to the new RV (recreational vehicle) boom in Japan. Accordingly, sales of the wagon variant far exceeded the initial target of 5,000 units per month.
In Europe, Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) in Britain began producing the European-version four-door Accord sedan in November 1991, while in Asian Oceania, Honda was already conducting knockdown assembly production in several countries. This was a process begun in Indonesia in 1978. Through such efforts, Honda was truly achieving worldwide production.
The birth of the sixth-generation Accord family was celebrated in September 1997 via the simultaneous launch of local-specification Accord models designed exclusively for Japan, the Americas, Europe, and the Asia Oceania. Honda had been working to establish a system in which it could more effectively tailor products to the needs of customers in various regions, based on an original "Global Flexible Platform*1." The company's strategic move, highlighted by the launch of these new Accords, signaled the arrival of an automotive production system that was driven by autonomous regional operations. It was the very type of system that Honda had been promoting under its four-polar global operations system.
The history of Accord engines is equally noteworthy. In 1985, Honda replaced the conventional CVCC engine with new SOHC and DOHC (single overhead and dual overhead cam) engines having displacements of 1800 cc and 2000 cc, respectively. Adopting electronic engine management and a three-way catalyst, the new powerplants offered significantly better performance. In 1989, a 2200 cc SOHC unit was added to the series. Further expansion came in 1993, when the VTEC engine was introduced. In 1997, Honda introduced the low emission vehicle (LEV) specification, which offered the benefit of reduced environmental impact. In all, the evolution of Honda's Accord engines reflects a continuing effort to respond to the needs of the times.
The promotion of four-polar global operations saw the simultaneous 1997 launch of Accords produced to local specifications. In the picture, associates at HAM surround the new Accord coupe, which was launched mainly through the efforts of Honda's American operations.
In June 1998, Honda's President Kawamoto visited 10 Downing Street, the official residence of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He introduced the new European-version Accord (manufactured by HUM) to Prime Minister Blair (right) and Trade and Industry Minister Beckett.
The Accord model line has, through its various generations, demonstrated a constant process of evolution; a process of refinement reflected in model lines, engines and displacements, comfort equipment and more. These elements, all of which were developed in keeping with the times, have contributed to the realization of the Accord's unique identity. Ultimately, it is a car that inspires a state of harmony between the driver and the surrounding world. This evolutionary theme has earned high recognition in every market region.
*1 Global Flexible Platform refers to a base frame that forms the foundation of the car. It ensures a high level of rigidity while being flexible enough to adjust efficiently to different vehicle sizes. The term also indicates the use of this frame as a basis for producing cars with optimal body dimensions and vehicle shapes, thus meeting the needs of different regions.