It's official: Honda America is 50 years old. The company actually began its golden jubilee celebration earlier this year with a special float in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena. That was followed by a little ceremony at the company's headquarters in Torrance, California this month – almost a painfully modest way to commemorate going from nothing to market heavyweight in at least five different areas (cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, power equipment, and racing). And all of it was done on the back of a 50 cc step-through motorcycle. Perhaps Honda wants its milestones to sing their own tunes, so you can check them out in the gallery of high-res photos below, or read about them and check out a video that spans the ages after the jump.
* On June 11, American Honda Motor Co, Inc. is incorporated as the first overseas subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., just eleven years after the company's inception as a small motorcycle manufacturer in Japan.
* A handful of associates led by 39-year-old Kihachiro Kawashima begin signing up U.S. motorcycle dealers, working out of a small storefront office at 4077 Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The Honda 50 (Super Cub), Dream and Benly motorcycles are the first Honda products sold in the U.S. First-year sales amounted to just over 1,700 units.
* Honda begins selling power equipment products in the U.S. Its first product is the F-190 tiller followed by the E-300 and E-40 portable generators in 1964.
* American Honda launches the memorable 12-year ad campaign, "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" to create a new image of fun and friendly motorcycling with U.S. consumers. Advertisements appeared on billboards and in many of America's most prestigious magazines of the day, and, in 1965, the company aired two 90-second commercials during the Academy Awards.
* American Honda, now with approximately 800 motorcycle dealers around the country, moves its corporate headquarters from Pico Boulevard to new offices in Gardena, California.
* Honda not only has to establish itself in the U.S. motorcycle market, it has to overcome the negative stereotype of motorcyclists.
* American Honda sells its one-millionth motorcycle in the U.S.
* American Honda sells a handful of its first automobile, the diminutive N600 sedan, in Hawaii in 1969 followed by the start of sales in the continental U.S. in 1970. The N600 carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,275
* American Honda introduces the Civic hatchback at the outset of America's first energy crisis. With an MSRP of $2,150, a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine, and a front-wheel drive/front engine layout, the Civic is virtually an overnight hit with American car buyers.
* Honda introduces the industry's first 4-stroke outboard marine engines, which are cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient than comparable 2-stroke motors.
* The 1975 Civic CVCC (Compound Vortex-Combustion Controlled) is introduced as the first car to meet U.S. Clean Air Act exhaust emissions standards without the use of a catalytic converter. In 1977, the Civic CVCC tops the U.S. EPA's first-ever list of the most fuel-efficient cars in America with an EPA fuel economy rating of 40 mpg.
* Honda begins market research and new model development activities in America with the establishment of Honda Research California (later Honda R&D Americas, Inc.) in the company's Gardena, California, headquarters.
* Honda introduces the GL1100 "Gold Wing" igniting U.S. motorcycle riders passion for long-distance cruising
* American Honda introduces the Honda Accord, first as a hatchback, followed by the Accord 4-door sedan in 1979. Accord soon establishes itself as the new benchmark of mainstream economy sedans.
* Honda announces plan to produce* products in America, starting with motorcycles, but with a plan to add automobiles in the future. Honda of America Mfg., Inc. is formally established in February 1978.
* On September 10, Honda of America Mfg. begins production of the Honda CR250M Elsinore motorcycle at the Marysville Motorcycle Plant in Marysville, Ohio, making Honda the first Japanese automaker to produce products of any kind in America. Within days of the start of motorcycle production, Honda decides to go ahead with plans for a new automobile factory in Ohio.
* Honda breaks ground on a new $250 million auto plant in Marysville, Ohio.
* On November 1, a slate gray Accord Sedan is driven off the end of the assembly line at the Marysville Auto Plant (MAP), making Honda the first Japanese automaker to build automobiles in the U.S. Over the next 25 years, Honda will invest more than $3.8 billion in expanding and modernizing MAP to ensure that it remains one of the U.S. auto industry's most flexible and efficient production facilities.
* In February, American Honda confirms its plans for a new luxury-performance division called internally "Channel II" as an alternative to well-established European brands. The new division is eventually named Acura.
* On August 6, Honda Power Equipment Mfg., Inc., begins assembling Honda lawnmowers at a new plant in Swepsonville, NC. The plant steadily expands its capacity to more than 340,000 lawnmowers and 2 million general-purpose engines annually.
* With heavy influence from American Honda and Honda R&D Americas, the company introduces the1984 Honda CRX-HF, the first car to achieve an EPA fuel economy rating in excess of 50 miles per gallon.
* On July 22, the Anna Engine Plant (AEP) in Anna, Ohio, begins production of Gold Wing engines. AEP would build its first automobile engine in September 1986 and goes on to become Honda's highest volume engine plant in the world with an annual production capacity of 1.2 million units (in 2008).
* The Marysville Auto Plant (MAP) accomplishes the U.S. auto industry's first rolling model change with the launch of the 1986 Accord without a plant shutdown. MAP is also the first U.S. autoplant to build left- and right-hand drive cars on one assembly line and the first to export cars to Japan, in 1988.
* Honda R&D Americas opens its Ohio Center for new vehicle development. The facility and its engineers go on to develop some of the company's most innovative products including two generations of the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX SUVs, Element, Ridgeline pickup, and three generations of the Acura TL sedan.
* Acura is launched as the first luxury brand from a Japanese automaker. Sales of the Acura Legend Sedan and Integra 3-door and 5-door sports sedans begin on March 27 at 60 Acura dealers in 18 states. The Legend Sedan is named Motor Trend magazine's "Import Car of the Year" and Acura goes on to become the best-selling import nameplate for 1987, and also tops J.D. Power and Associates' annual Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) survey for four consecutive years (1987-1990)
* The Ohio-made Accord Coupe becomes the first U.S.-built vehicle ever exported to Japan with the start of exports on March 7. American Honda quickly becomes the #1 exporter of U.S.-built automobiles to Japan.
* The East Liberty Auto Plant (ELP), Honda's second U.S. auto plant, in East Liberty, Ohio, begins production of Civics in December. ELP is the first automobile plant in America to use more environmentally friendly waterborne paint.
* Honda company co-founder, Soichiro Honda, becomes the first leader of a Japanese automaker inducted into the U.S. Automotive Hall of Fame.
* The Accord becomes America's top-selling automobile, a position it holds for three consecutive years (1989-1991).
* The 1991 Acura NSX is launched as the first supercar from a Japanese automaker and the first production automobile with an all-aluminum chassis and body. The NSX, with an MSRP of $65,000, also debuts the company's VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) engine technology for improved performance with reduced emissions and higher fuel efficiency,
1991 Acura NSXwhich is later applied to virtually all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in America.
* The 1991 Accord Wagon debuts as the first Honda vehicle to be designed, developed and manufactured in America.
* American Honda introduces the first-generation Odyssey minivan based on an automobile unibody platform. The Odyssey, with its fold-away third-row "magic seat" paves the way for Honda's entry into the burgeoning U.S. light truck market.
* American Honda begins racing in the IndyCar World Series. Honda-powered cars go on to win 65 out of 164 races in several open-wheel series between 1994 and 2002, capturing six Driver's Championships and four Manufacturer's Championships.
* 1995 Civic is the first automobile to meet California's Low-Emissions Vehicle (LEV) exhaust emissions standards. Honda goes on to lead the industry in the introduction of low-emission vehicles including the first 50-state low-emissions car (1998 Civic), first ULEV (1998 Accord), first-to-market SULEV (2000 Accord), and first AT-PZEV (2001 Civic GX).
* Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. begins production of gears and automatic transmissions for automobiles. The plant adds production of high-precision gears in 2006 and four-wheel-drive differentials in 2007.
* American Honda begins leasing the Honda EV Plus battery electric vehicle (BEV), the first four-passenger BEV powered by advanced nickel-metal hydride batteries and an early example of Honda's effort to advance electric drive technology.
* Sales of Honda and Acura vehicles exceed one-million units for the first time in a single year as the Accord completes a decade as the best-selling vehicle to individual car buyers (excluding fleet sales) and the Civic is the best-selling compact car in America for the third consecutive year.
* Honda of South Carolina Mfg, Inc. opens a new 330,000-square-foot plant for the production of Honda Four Trax all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The company would add a second plant for production of Honda AquaTrax personal watercraft in 2002.
* Sales begin of the natural gas-powered Honda Civic GX, powered by the cleanest internal combustion engine ever certified by the U.S. EPA.
* The Honda Insight debuts in December as America's first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. Featuring a lightweight, all-aluminum body and Honda's IMA™ (Integrated Motor Assist™) hybrid technology, the two-seat Insight boasts an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 70 mpg.
* Acura debuts the U.S.-designed and developed 2001 Acura MDX. With a fuel-efficient V6 engine, lightweight VTM-4™ all-wheel drive system and standard third-row seating, the MDX quickly establishes itself as the new benchmark for luxury "crossover" SUVs.
* Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC, Honda's third U.S. auto plant, begins synchronous production of Odyssey minivans and V6 engines. In April 2004, HMA would add a second assembly line and double its vehicle and engine production capacity to 300,000 units annually.
* Honda R&D Americas, Inc. opens the first solar-powered hydrogen production and fueling station built and operated by an automaker, at its U.S. headquarters facility in Torrance, California.
* The 2001 Honda Civic Coupe is the first compact car to earn a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for both frontal and side impacts.
* American Honda's Northwest Regional Facility in Gresham, Oregon, becomes the first mixed-used industrial building in America to receive a LEED-Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
* American Honda introduces the Civic Hybrid, the first application of hybrid technology to an existing, mass-produced automobile.
* The Honda FCX is the industry's first fuel cell car to earn certification for regular commercial use from both the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB). The City of Los Angeles takes delivery of two FCX cars on December 2 as the world's first commercial customer for a fuel cell vehicle.
* American Honda announces its industry-leading "Safety for Everyone" initiative to equip all Honda and Acura automobiles with a core suite of advanced safety technologies regardless of vehicle size or price.
* Honda R&D opens a state-of-the-art new safety test facility in Ohio, equipped with the world's highest resolution crash-test barrier and the world's first pitching test sled to more accurately simulate the dynamics of a crash event.
* The HondaJet advanced light jet makes its inaugural test flight on December 3 at the Piedmont-Triad International Airport in Greensboro, NC.
* American Honda cumulative product sales, including automobiles, powersports and power equipment products, surpass the 50-million-unit mark, including more than 20-million automobiles.
* The 2006 Honda Civic is the first compact car to earn a "Top Safety Pick" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
* The Spallino family takes delivery of a Honda FCX, becoming the world's first individual customer for a fuel cell car.
Leasing begins of the Phill™ home refueling appliance to expand the appeal and convenience of its Civic GX natural gas-powered vehicle technology.
* Honda introduces VCM™ (Variable Cylinder Management™), the industry's first cylinder deactivation technology for V6 engines.
* Honda R&D Americas, Inc. opens two new design studios in Southern California, including an Acura Design Studio in Torrance and the Advanced Design Studio for future products in Pasadena.
* "Greenest Automaker" by the Union of Concerned Scientists for the fourth consecutive time in the organization's biennial study of automakers' U.S. automobile fleet smog-forming and greenhouse gas emissions.
* American Honda begins sales of its micro-combined heat and power (MCHP) co-generation technology in the Northeastern United States, offering the potential for a significant decrease in energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with home heating.
* Honda introduces the world's first production motorcycle with an available rider airbag system, on the 2008 Honda Gold Wing.
* Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC, begins production of fuel-efficient 4-cylinder Civic Sedans at Honda's fourth U.S. auto plant in Greensburg, Indiana. The plant sets new standards for energy efficiency among Honda's U.S. auto plants and is a zero-waste-to-landfill facility.
* American Honda begins lease sales of its next-generation FCX Clarity fuel cell car to customers in Southern California.
* The 2010 Honda Insight launches in March with an MSRP of $19,800, making it the most affordable hybrid car in America.
*using domestic and globally sourced parts