The history of Honda in Europe began in 1961 with the founding of motorcycle sales company European Honda Motor Trading GmbH in Hamburg, Germany. It was Honda's second overseas location, after the United States in 1959. For Honda, still a small company at the time, the advancement into Europe was a formidable undertaking.
It was in that year, however, that Honda swept the five top spots in the 125-cc and 250-cc classes of the Isle of Man motorcycle race in the UK, triggering a surge in the popularity of Honda-made motorcycles across Europe. With now a smooth path to growing its business, Honda built a factory in Belgium and expanded into the UK and Switzerland thereafter.
Germany thus holds special meaning for Honda, marking the company’s first step onto the European continent. Today, the Germany Branch of Honda Motor Europe (HME-DE) is in charge of selling Honda motorcycle, automobiles and power products. Its headquarters, which exclusively manages more than a thousand dealerships across the country, is located in southwest Germany in the city of Frankfurt. Housed in an enormous building on Hanauer Landstrasse are three Honda entities: the sales headquarters, Honda Finance Germany and Honda Center Frankfurt, one of three flagship Honda dealerships in the country.
This is the epicenter of a new wave of energy-saving activities begun by HME-DE and spreading out to Honda sites all across Europe. A new plan is now underway to expand these activities first to France, Italy, Spain, and the UK, and eventually to all other Honda operations in Europe.
Headquarters of the Germany Branch of Honda Motor Europe Ltd. (HME-DE) in Frankfurt
In the showroom, automobiles are displayed on the first floor and motorcycles on the second
Befitting its flagship status, the showroom also showcases an NSX sports car
Just how revolutionary and powerful are these energy-saving measures that are making their way to other Honda locations across Europe? Jurgen Pawlik, who launched the project at HME-DE, describes it this way.
"There's nothing special about the actions we took. They're easy to do and anyone can start doing them regardless of location. They're nothing special, and yet they also helped us reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of our office building by almost ten percent."
Jurgen starts the conversation with an unexpected answer: The measures are simple, in no way revolutionary. But before reaching this idea of simplicity, Jurgen apparently had gone through a long period of self-reflection about what he could accomplish.
To provide a sense of context, Honda in Europe has been working passionately to reduce the environmental impacts of its factories and R&D centers. Compared to office buildings and dealerships, energy use—and therefore the impacts of reduction—is much greater at these facilities. Indeed, one solution can sometimes yield enormous energy savings. But the HME-DE’s Frankfurt building where Jurgen works is an office building; there are limits to how much any single measure can achieve.
"But in recent years there’s been a move to actively save energy in offices too, based on the viewpoint that environmental impacts should be reduced in all areas of a company's business," says Jurgen. "During that time I've had a growing desire to contribute to those reduced impacts through my own role as a manager of office facilities and environmental performance."
Jurgen passed the days contemplating what he could, and should, do. He wanted to achieve something valuable, to feel a real satisfaction in having made a difference for the environment. After ruminating this way, he eventually arrived at a certain perspective.
"I'm not an engineer. I can't invent a new engine, or develop some innovative energy-saving technology. The only thing I can do is make small improvements every day. And I probably can't do much on my own, but what happens when I get everyone on the same floor involved? Or the entire office building? Better yet, if the more than a thousand dealerships managed by HME-DE also joined us, maybe we could achieve the kind of big results that factories and R&D centers have seen."
What Jurgen needed was not some game-changing, earth-shattering measures, but small changes that produced tangible results. And if he could start a movement to implement those changes at all Honda offices, they could amount to something of tremendous value. Having arrived at this mindset, Jurgen quickly launched a new energy-saving project with three colleagues from the Frankfurt office and one from the Honda Center Leipzig, a dealership in Leipzig.
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