Odyssey / 1994

Determination and Passion: A Car that Fulfills the Creative Lifestyle

Odyssey / 1994

Developing a Car with a Roomy Interior

Kunimichi Odagaki, then a chief engineer (CE) at the R&D Center was stationed at Sayama Factory to assist the launch of the 1991 Legend where he received a phone call in August 1990. The center wished to develop a roomy new car for the U.S. market. Specifically, they told him to establish a new plant in the U.S. to develop a new large-size minivan; one powered by the V6 engine from the upscale Acura Legend. The plan reflected a strong desire by Koichi Amemiya, president of American Honda, to set a new standard for that growing segment of the American market.

Photo

The Odyssey S 4WD model (with power sunroof) released in October 1994

Odagaki went to work immediately, assembling a team of twenty to develop the project. As LPL of the development project, Odagaki flew to the U.S. in September 1990 with five or six of his team members. For the next month, they conducted an intensive review of existing minivan competitors in the U.S.

"It was a time in which American consumers were changing their minds," Odagaki recalled. "Rather than wanting more luxurious cars, they began looking for models that could more easily accommodate specific uses. We couldn’t have agreed more with that idea, and were strongly convinced that Honda had to develop its own minivan."

The minivans that were sold in the U.S. during that period generally cost around $20,000, but Honda’s proposed model was to be considerably more expensive than that. Including the costs of building a new plant and installing the Legend V6 engine, the anticipated retail price was as much as $30,000. Therefore, the four-cylinder power plant from the Accord was considered as a more affordable alternative. However, just as the team had shifted into top gear, the management canceled the minivan development project.

Odagaki called the representatives of automotive development (RAD) at the head office, pleading with him to reconsider. "I understand this is an order," he said, "but I don’t think we should cancel the project." He was determined to create a car that would answer the demand for a high-quality, supremely functional minivan for the American market. However, even after 40 minutes on the telephone, Odagaki had not succeeded in convincing the RAD.

Odagaki’s team members felt strongly that the project should be continued. For one thing, they had seen with their own eyes the explosive growth of this new market segment. Moreover, they believed that Japan would be the next step in the growth of this new culture.

The team quietly began its own "underground" development effort at the end of that year, working outside the realm of official duty. In the face of numerous difficulties, though, their only hope was the fact that the company president, executive director in charge of product, and the top management at the R&D Center had tacitly approved the continuation of this project.

The team members visited recreational sites and sporting sites across a considerable range of market territory, interviewing minivan owners and observing how the vehicles were used.

"We wanted to know precisely what the customer wanted," said Odagaki. "Only after understanding their needs could we create a value that no other car provided; the kind of value that would win the customer’s heart. We took it upon ourselves to answer that challenge."

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
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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