The Long-held Dream of Developing a Mini-tiller

The F200 Komame literally "cultivated" a market for mini-tillers.

<< 1. The Long-held Dream of Developing a Mini-tiller
<< 2. The Requirement: Small but First-class Handy Worker
<< 3. The Vertical Layout for a Slim Profile
<< 4. A Planetary Gear, Courtesy of the Road Pal
<< 5. Komame's Debut: Soaring Beyond Every Expectation
<< 6. A Mountain of Letters: The Greatest Honor an Engineer Can Receive

Japan was in a period of rapid economic growth in the late 1970s, when Honda saw its sales hit ¥1 trillion and introduced the five-day work week. Amid all this progress, people were beginning to focus more on the enjoyment of their lives.

This was about the time that Honda launched its new ME general purpose engine, a model that was to make Honda Power Products the third pillar in a global marketing trio. Under the million-unit target set for the ME family of engines, one plan was initiated to develop a new product equipped with the G100 derivative. Gunji Saito, who for most of his career at Honda had been involved in the development of medium- to large-size cultivators, had been given the order to develop a mini-tiller.

Saito, then in his thirties, was given the post of Large Project Leader (LPL) in order that he might tackle the development of a new mini-tiller, a size category he had never dealt with before. The reason he had joined Honda in the first place was to develop cultivators. Rather than work with large, industrial models such as those from Kubota and Yanmar, his goal was to create machines for avid gardeners and people who simply enjoyed gardening as a hobby. To him, the development of a mini-tiller was an excellent opportunity.

The worldwide agricultural industry was then experiencing a period of decline, but gardening was enjoying a boom in popularity.

Accordingly, Honda had begun organizing a sales network for lawn and garden products, preparing for the launch of its HR21 lawn mower. Saito thus made the determination to turn away from traditional farm users, defining the mini-tiller concept as a "beginner's machine for use in home and hobby gardening." With a goal of tapping new user markets, the specific target group was identified as home users who were looking for an alternative to hoes, shovels, and garden rakes. Incidentally, Saito knew someone who was into home gardening; a woman who had often complained to him, "I wish there was a cute, little cultivator I could use." Those words gave Saito extra confidence in defining his concept.

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