Odyssey / 1994

Determination and Passion: A Car that Fulfills the Creative Lifestyle

Odyssey / 1994

A Decision by Sayama Plant

Odagaki faxed a memo to Suzuka Factory, Saitama Factory’s Sayama Plant, and Honda of America Manufacturing (HAM). "This plan is not an official project," stated the memo. "However, we believe it’s a car that Honda should develop. Unfortunately, our study has found that the construction of a new plant would increase the required investment, making the project impractical in terms of costs. Therefore, we have designed a feasible package that maintains the necessary interior space for passengers, yet that can be manufactured through minimal changes to an existing production line. Please consider the possibility of manufacturing the car at your Factory." Subsequently, HAM and the Sayama Plant replied that they might be able to accommodate the request.

A Decision by Sayama Plant

The Odyssey’s line-off ceremony held on October 3, 1994, at Saitama Factory’s Sayama Plant, was attended by representatives from business partners and dealers, along with numerous associates. There was an atmosphere of celebration surrounding the launch of Honda’s new minivan.

"The collapse of Japan’s bubble economy had reduced the overall market for sedans," recalled Hiroshi Sekine, who was EPL for the Odyssey introduction project at Sayama Plant. "By contrast, the RV (recreational vehicle) market was growing. RV was a category in which Honda didn’t have an entry. At the same time, we were aware of the obvious lack of capacity that Saitama Factory would face. It was anticipated that Sayama Plant’s Line Number 1 would become idle within two or three years."

Hiroyuki Shimojima, then managing director and Saitama Factory’s general manager, had decided that the factory should introduce a new car in order to revitalize the plant and its employees.

"We on the manufacturing side had to do several things first," Sekine said. "We had to maximize our factory’s unique characteristics as a passenger-car plant, achieve stable quality, minimize the investment, and employ existing equipment effectively. However, we couldn’t meet those requirements using the design provided by the R&D Center. So, we worked with their staff in order to change the car."

The body of the Odyssey minivan was larger and heavier than existing models produced by the factory. Therefore, the first step was to conduct a thorough procedural analysis and identify what needed to be changed.

Each of those items was then verified by Sekine, who walked through the line and checked every point. This resulted in a substantially reduced investment required to build the vehicle.

Following the preparation of his investment forecast, Sekine visited the Production Planning Office and presented it to the Investment Evaluation Committee. There, he was given a discouraging comment by the head of the Planning Office, who said, "Sekine, why don’t you propose canceling the development? I’m telling you, this car will not sell." However, after the committee’s evaluation an approval was given by Senior Managing Director Nobuyuki Otsuka.

"Nobody had given me an answer as to whether the car was to be manufactured at Sayama Plant or at HAM," said Sekine, recalling his conversation with Otsuka. "So, in order for us to minimize any damage suffered in the event that HAM was chosen, I will check the progress every two months and identify the minimum investment requirements. Then I’d come back to him with each investment plan and obtain his approval."

"What a dirty tactic," replied Otsuka, rather jokingly. "If the investment is too big, I can tell you to reduce it. But if you bring me an investment plan for a small amount every two months, how can I say no?" Otsuka also gave Sekine a detailed evaluation of the plan.

It was Sekine’s goal to bring the Odyssey project to Sayama Plant, no matter what the difficulties might be.

The intra-company competition between Sayama and HAM continued until the final decision had at last been made. The competition was so fierce, in fact, that if Sayama Plant had refused the project it would have been taken to the U.S. immediately.

Another factor surrounding the first generation Odyssey project involved the collapse of Japan’s bubble economy, rising yen, and recessionary trend - all of which made it difficult to discern the true state of the Japanese business environment. Further complicating matters, the minivan would face 25-percent tariffs if it were imported to the U.S.

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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