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.

Developing a Car with a Roomy Interior

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

1990 - 1999
  1. The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997
  2. Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994
  3. Odyssey / 1994Odyssey / 1994
  4. 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
  5. Hosting Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991
  6. The NSX / 1990The NSX / 1990
1980 - 1989
  1. The VTEC Engine / 1989The VTEC Engine / 1989
  2. Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988
  3. An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988
  4. Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987
  5. The Airbag System / 1987The Airbag System / 1987
  6. The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983
  7. Formula One Entry / 1983Formula One Entry / 1983
  8. Development of Honda's Franz System Car / 1982Development of Honda's Franz System Car / 1982
  9. The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982
  10. Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981
  11. The Car Navigation System / 1981The Car Navigation System / 1981
  12. City / 1981City / 1981
  13. The F200 The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980
  14. Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980
1970 - 1979
  1. The Oval Piston Engine / 1979The Oval Piston Engine / 1979
  2. Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979
  3. The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978
  4. Creating Hometown Forests / 1977Creating Hometown Forests / 1977
  5. The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977
  6. Introducing the Accord / 1976Introducing the Accord / 1976
  7. CG125 / 1975CG125 / 1975
  8. Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974
  9. Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973
  10. Announcing the Civic / 1972Announcing the Civic / 1972
  11. Introducing the CVCC / 1972Introducing the CVCC / 1972
  12. Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970
  13. Launching the Office of Safe Driving Promotional Operations / 1970Launching the Office of Safe Driving Promotional Operations / 1970
1960 - 1969
  1. The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969
  2. Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968
  3. The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968
  4. Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966
  5. The E300 Portable Generator / 1965The E300 Portable Generator / 1965
  6. Formula One Entry / 1964Formula One Entry / 1964
  7. Kyoto: Celebrating the Company's 15th Anniversary / 1963Kyoto: Celebrating the Company's 15th Anniversary / 1963
  8. Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963
  9. Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962
  10. Employing the Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification / 1960
  11. The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960
1950 - 1959
  1. Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959

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