Honda Motor Co. was incorporated on Sept. 24, 1948. The company was founded by Soichiro Honda, who formed the Honda Technical Research Institute in Hamamatsu, Japan, in 1946 to develop and produce internal combustion engines and machine tools. Honda’s first original motorized product -- a two-stroke Dream D-type motorcycle -- debuted in 1949, and the company’s first general-purpose engine was produced in 1952.
As the 1950s ended, Honda introduced the Cub, a Vespa clone that proved popular with women and became the first Honda product sold in the U.S. After forays into racing and a push into Southeast Asia and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, Honda pulled the plug on F1 racing in 1968 to focus on commercial car production and low-emissions technology. In 1970, Honda launched exports of the N600 to the U.S., and in 1974, the Civic CVCC -- for compound vortex controlled combustion -- became the first engine to comply with the U.S. Clean Air Act without a catalytic converter. The Civic was a hit with U.S. drivers stung by rising gasoline prices. The slightly larger, plusher 1976 Accord sedan captured even more fans, and in 1989, it became the most popular car sold in the U.S.
As the 1990s dawned, the company targeted other alternative-fuel vehicles. The Honda EV Plus went on sale in California in 1997, and the Insight became the first gasoline-electric hybrid to go on sale in the U.S., in 1999. The fuel cell prototypes FCX-V1 and FCX-V2 were introduced in 1999. The FCX fuel cell was delivered to customers in Japan and the U.S. in 2002 and was followed by the FCX Clarity. Honda continues to build on its roots in engine development and emissions control with plans to introduce new turbo engines, two- and three-motor gasoline-electric hybrids and a next-generation fuel cell over the next few years. The re-engineered 2017 Accord Hybrid delivers what Honda calls class-leading fuel economy thanks to a tweaked two-motor hybrid system that improves power and efficiency. The updated sedan, which goes on sale this spring in the U.S. and Japan, gets a version of a new gasoline-electric drivetrain that debuted in February in the Japan-market Odyssey minivan. The U.S. Accord Hybrid achieves EPA fuel economy ratings of 49 mpg city/47 highway/48 combined. Honda says that makes it the most fuel efficient midsize hybrid sedan on the road. Honda's second-gen Clarity FCV hydrogen fuel cell car goes on sale in California this year. It will sell for around $60,000 and come with a 300-plus-mile range.
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