Let’s play a word association game. What comes to mind when you hear “Honda”? For most, it’s something like dependability or reliability, and that would be fair because Honda is known for making some of the most dependable cars, trucks, and SUVs on the market. Visit a Honda dealer, and you’ll find no shortage of practical vehicles to choose from.
We love that a guy from Maine reached one million miles on his 1997 Accord, and we love it even more that Honda threw him a parade and gifted him a free 2012 replacement Accord. It’s little stories like this that illustrate the relationship between Honda and its customer base and personalize the company in a way that makes us want to be a part of it.
But what you may not know about are the lesser-known facts about Honda, such as their incredible Indy 500 racing successes or that the company is beloved by motorcycle enthusiasts. Peel the onion of Honda, and you’ll find a lot of interesting layers. There’s much more to America’s second best-selling Japanese brand than you might imagine, and here we’ll list our favorite fun and unexpected facts about Honda that you probably didn’t know.
#7 ASIMO the Robot
Honda has successfully designed a 130cm (4-feet-3-inches) tall robot whose purpose is solely to help people with limited mobility. ASIMO – an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility – can walk over 7 mph and run up to 5.5 miles per house. It can jump and balance on one foot and is capable of communicating in both American and Japanese sign language. ASIMO is a 20-year culmination of Honda’s research into robotics, and it acts as a global ambassador to create interest and excitement about studying math and science. Currently, Honda claims that ASIMO is the “world’s most advanced humanoid robot.”
#6 Honda is the World’s Largest Motorcycle Manufacturer
It’s not all about making dependable vehicles; Honda builds more motorcycles than any other company on the planet and has since 1959. At the end of 2019, Honda had produced 400 million motorcycles. It doesn’t stop there, either. Honda is also the largest producer of internal combustion engines. At last count, the company built more than 14 million of them annually. The Honda name can also be found on garden equipment, personal watercraft, generators, and marine motors.
#5 The Honda Civic Solved the ‘70s Fuel Crisis
Just how did Honda, a small and virtually unheard of Japanese auto manufacturer, manage to get such a strong foothold in the U.S. market? Three words: international fuel crisis. The Civic came along at a time when gas prices spiked, and finding a gas station with any fuel at all was a challenge. Overlay this with America’s penchant for Detroit’s gas-guzzling big-block V8s, and the Civic’s timing was perfect.
The Civic debuted as a hatchback with a tiny 1.2-liter engine and represented the physical and philosophical opposite of what most Americans were driving at the time. Putting out about 50 horsepower, the Civic sipped gas, achieving 40 miles per gallon on the highway and making it practical enough that over 40,000 were sold in 1974. By 1977, that number shot up to over 100,000. Today, Honda sells around 300,000 Civics per year.
#4 Honda Knows Racing
Did you know that Honda is the most successful carmaker of all-time at the Indy 500? The company has won more races, had more starts, and completed more laps than any other carmaker before it, and boasts a staggering 12 IndyCar Manufacturers’ Championship titles. In addition, Honda has won 10 Indianapolis 500 races at The Brickyard, also more than any other automaker. Add to that 300 starts and a whopping 50,019 laps completed, and all since 1994. Honda’s racing excellence is consistent and unparalleled, a stat that most Honda owners don’t know.
Honda owners might also like to know that every vehicle in the lineup – including the Odyssey minivan, the entry Fit, and every model in-between – includes engineering innovations gleaned from racing. Honda learned on the racetrack how to make vehicles lighter, faster, and more responsive.
#3 Honda’s Acura Line Was the First Japanese Luxury Brand
Honda launched its luxury and performance vehicle nameplate back in 1996. Interestingly, the line was introduced in the U.S. and Canada but was not released in Japan until after the turn of the century. The first Acura model to find success with American luxury car buyers was the popular Legend, followed by the Integra, and later a full lineup of luxury SUVs. It was Honda’s success in the luxury segment that drove Toyota and Nissan to launch their luxury brands, Lexus for Toyota and Infiniti for Nissan.
#2 The Acura NSX Was Compared to a Ferrari
Acura may be most well-known for its NSX performance sports coupe, a futuristic mid-engine go-fast machine that looked a lot like a Ferrari. The NSX wowed automotive journalists, with the team at Automobile Magazine calling it “legendary” and reporting that the NSX outperformed Ferrari “to a stunning degree.” That’s high praise for a car that constantly turned heads, both in its original coupe body style and the updated Targa t-roof version that followed it. At its most powerful, the NSX pumped out 290 horses and 225 lb-ft of torque and was mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Sadly, flagging sales led to the NSX being discontinued in 2005.
#1 Honda Builds Corporate Jets
Not only does Honda design and manufacture corporate jets, they do so in Greensboro, North Carolina. The very first HondaJet concept took a successful test flight in 2003, and eventually, it was launched as the HondaJet HA-420, but not before undergoing rigorous testing and receiving certification from the FAA in 2015. Honda added the HondaJet Elite to its fleet in 2018, delivering a jet with an increased range of 1,437 nautical miles (the original HondaJet HA-420 was limited to just 214) and seating for up to five. The HondaJet Elite can also be retrofitted into a medevac air ambulance.
Honda Is More Than Just Cars
There’s a lot more to Honda than just the lineup of cars, trucks, and SUVs we know and see every day. But even with all this diversification, there’s one common thread woven throughout the company’s portfolio of products: innovation. Whether it’s a motorcycle, a futuristic robot, or the 2021 Accord that’s sitting in your driveway right now, it’s a safe bet that Honda has pored hours of planning, R&D, and engineering know-how into every bolt and panel. It’s this commitment to excellence that drives constant innovation in Honda factories around the world.
The biggest beneficiaries are the millions of Honda vehicle owners around the world who enjoy industry-leading reliability every time they get behind the wheel. Names like Civic and Accord create pride of ownership and confidence, drawing thousands of buyers year-after-year. Add Honda’s relentless pursuit of racing victories and a decades-long history of building combustion engines that power everything from bicycles to motorcycles to Indy 500 race cars, and it’s clear that as an owner, you’re part of something pretty extraordinary. Honda is not your everyday automaker: it’s a company of inventors and trailblazers first and foremost. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.