Twenty-five years ago this month, Honda began building motorcycles at a factory in Marysville, Ohio. It was the beginning of a new era.
Three years later, Honda was producing cars in Marysville -- the first Japanese company to build automobiles in the United States.
This special section of Automotive News looks at Honda's bold stroke a quarter-century ago and the powerful impact it has had on the North American auto industry.
Changing the rules
Small, scrappy company reshaped the U.S. auto landscapeWhen the first Honda SUT pickup rolls off the line next year in Ontario, it won't be merely the launch of another model. It will mark Honda's arrival as a full-line North American producer and underscore the stunning achievements of its first quarter-century of production here.
Beyond Marysville: Building a network
A look a Honda's North America network, from California to Michigan to South Carolina, in PDF format.
Ohio crew blazed new trail for going global
Honda's first U.S. manufacturing bosses didn't merely change the way cars were built in the United States. They also rewrote the book on how companies approached international operations.
Founder's influence was felt at first U.S. plant
Honda's Marysville, Ohio, factory was built long after Soichiro Honda retired, but the company founder played a major role in the decision to assemble cars in the United States.
Honda looked for suppliers in U.S. that shared its values
Jim Hall will never forget his first day on the job at Stanley Electric Co. Ltd. in London, Ohio. Hall was hired in 1985 as the personnel manager at the Japan-based supplier. He was one of the company's first U.S. employees.
25 YEARS OF HONDA IN THE U.S.A. Q&A: Honda's U.S. manufacturing chief: We're no transplant
Koki Hirashima became CEO of Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. in 1998, but his involvement with the Marysville, Ohio, company goes back more than a decade. The executive, now 57, began his career with Honda Motor Co. in Japan in 1969.
It looked weird -- but there was method in the madness
When Honda Motor Co. began building motorcycles in Marysville, Ohio, in September 1979, it marked the start of something historic. Momentous. Revolutionary. Weird. For every observer applauding Honda's arrival (or booing, in some cases), there were three auto industry veterans scratching their heads, trying to make sense of Honda's oddball ways.
New methods made waves, then won respect
Honda's decision to make cars in U.S. factories with U.S. workers was unpopular among a group that might have been expected to support it: Honda's U.S. dealers.
Import curbs stimulated Honda's U.S. growth
When Mike Tolleson started selling cars in Wisconsin 20 years ago, he says customers who wanted to test drive Hondas "lined up like they were waiting for a ride at the fair."
They got there first: 10 memorable innovations
For 25 years, the auto industry has cherry-picked ideas from Honda's North American operations. Some competitors have pursued bigger versions of the ideas. Some have applied Honda's notions far beyond the Japanese automaker's own use. Others have tried Honda ideas and rejected them.
In some practices, Honda still stands alone
Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s competitors have had 25 years to study its manufacturing operations in North America. Automakers have tried to copy some Honda practices, such as the rolling model changeover.
COMMENT: Honda was the medicine, not the disease
Twenty-five years ago, when Honda dared to bring its foreign manufacturing ideas to Marysville, Ohio, the North American auto industry was in trouble. And worse, it was in denial about the amount of trouble it was in. Honda did not come to destroy the American auto industry. It came to become a part of it. Lindsay Chappell is an Automotive News staff reporter. He has covered Honda and its affiliated companies for 16 years.
The road to Marysville was long and winding
In 1976, Honda Motor Co. executives in Tokyo leaked word to the Japanese business press that they were interested in building an assembly plant in America. The news spread quickly to the United States. Ohio officials were the first to react. Here's how things unfolded.
Ohio says Honda incentives were a great investment
The state of Ohio dangled lucrative tax incentives to persuade Honda to build its motorcycle factory in Marysville, Ohio. It worked. The plant was completed in 1979, and 25 years later, the state sees the benefits of that partnership.
The challenge: Stay agile
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. has collected plenty of accolades for its North American operations over the past 25 years. But the journey hasn't been free of bumps, and there are challenges on the horizon.
Much more than motorcycles
Back in 1979, the only Honda products built in North America had two wheels and no roofs. When the company's full-sized pickup debuts next year, it will be a full-line North American vehicle producer.