Monday, May 21, 2012

Nihon / Japan: Soichiro Honda

Soichiro Honda (1906 – 1991) was a Japanese engineer and industrialist, and founder of Honda Motor Co., Ltd..[1]

Honda was born in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan, says Wikipedia, in 1906. He spent his early childhood helping his father, Gihei, a blacksmith, with his bicycle repair business. At the time his mother, Mika, was a weaver.

At 15, without any formal education, Honda left home and headed to Tokyo to look for work. He obtained an apprenticeship at a garage in 1922, and after some hesitation over his employment, he stayed for six years, working as a car mechanic before returning home to start his own auto repair business in 1928 at the age of 22.

In 1937 Honda founded Tōkai Seiki to produce piston rings for Toyota. During World War II US B-29 bomber attack destroyed Tōkai Seiki's Yamashita plant in 1944, and the Itawa plant collapsed in the 1945 Mikawa earthquake, and Soichiro Honda sold the salvageable remains the company to Toyota after the war and used the proceeds to found the Honda Technical Research Institute in October 1946.[2][3]

In 1948 he started producing complete motorcycles as president of the Honda Motor Company. Honda turned the company into a billion-dollar multinational that produced the best-selling motorcycles in the world.

Honda's engineering and marketing skills resulted in Honda motorcycles' outselling Triumph and Harley-Davidson in their respective home markets. In 1959 Honda Motorcycles opened its first dealership in the United States.

His status was such that People magazine placed him on their "25 Most Intriguing People of the Year" list for 1980, dubbing him "the Japanese Henry Ford." In retirement Honda busied himself with work connected with the Honda Foundation.

The Honda Cub is a scooter-like motorcycle with a four stroke single cylinder engine ranging in displacement from 49 to 109 cc.

Having been in continuous manufacture since 1958, with production surpassing 60 million in 2008,[1][2] the Super Cub is the most produced motor vehicle* in history.[3][4]

The Super Cub's US advertising campaign, "You meet the nicest people on a Honda", had a lasting impact on Honda's image and on American attitudes about motorcycling, and is considered a classic case study in marketing.