Heritage

Honda's journey to selling 400 million motorcycles started with a Dream in 1949

Workers manufacture motorcycles in a Japanese Honda factory.

Photo by Getty Images

Honda kicked off production of the Dream D-Type motorcycle in 1949, marking the brand's first foray into commercial motorcycle production. Seventy years later, the company has made its 400 millionth.

"For 70 years, Honda has provided to customers worldwide motorcycles that make life easier and enjoyable," said Takahiro Hachigo, Chief Executive Officer, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. "As a result, we have achieved our 400 million-unit milestone. I am grateful to all of our customers, and everyone involved in development, manufacturing, sales and service of our products. We will continue to do our best to provide attractive products that meet the needs and dreams of our customers worldwide."

Honda Super Cub The Honda Super Cub is the most important motorcycle in Honda's history, selling more than 100 million nationwide since its debut.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Sometimes known as the Type D or Model D, the Dream D-Type was the first in a series of Dream motorcycles that Honda made in its early years. The bike featured an air-cooled two-stroke single-cylinder engine with 98 cc displacement and three horsepower.

Honda unveiled the D-Type's successor, the E-Type, in 1951 and began exporting motorcycles from Japan in 1952. That same decade, in 1958, Honda released its first Super Cub, the Super Cub C100.

The Super Cub is Honda's most successful motorcycle. Its numerous variants accounted for over 60 million total sales by 2008, 87 million by 2014, and 100 million by 2017. It is now the most produced motor vehicle in history.

Honda first entered the motorcycle Grand Prix racing stage in 1959. This decade also the beginning of the production of purpose-built Honda motorcycles for racing that carried the "RC" label. Honda Racing Corporation would eventually form in 1982 and carry on the naming tradition.

1964 Isle of Man TT races British born Rhodesian racing motorcyclist Jim Redman riding a Honda to victory in the Lightweight 250cc event at the Isle of Man TT races, 9th June 1964. Photo by Getty Images

As a way to show the difference between the negative stereotypes that were pervasive in U.S. culture surrounding motorcyclists, Grey Advertising created the slogan "You meet the nicest people on a Honda." The campaign was a resounding success and is still considered a case study in good advertising strategy.

With demand on the rise, Honda expanded production opening a facility in Belgium in 1963 and one in Thailand in 1967. By 1968, the company reached 10 million cumulative motorcycles produced.

Expansion continued with production expanding to Indonesia in 1971 and Italy and Brazil in 1976. It wasn't until 1979 that Honda began producing motorcycles in North America.

Isle of Man Formula One TT 1996 Joey Dunlop of Great Britain and rider of the #3 Honda Britain Honda RC45 chases Shaun Harris on the #1 Britten V1000 during the International Isle of Man Formula One TT (Tourist Trophy) Race on 5 June 1996, Douglas on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom. Photo by Getty Images

Honda continued to have success in the world market though there are mixed opinions regarding the company's lack of competition in the higher-powered motorcycle market in the U.S. Some theorized that it was poor planning on behalf of Honda while others say that it was never Honda's intent to compete.

Honda of America began producing motorcycle engines in Ohio in 1985.

In 1987, as Honda reached the 50 million mark in total motorcycle production in Japan, the company also celebrated the beginning of motorcycle and auto part production at Honda de Mexico. This is the same year that Honda first included an air bag in a car, the Acura Legend.

1992 marked the year that Honda first produced the Honda NR, the first motorcycle that was sold with oval pistons. The shape of the pistons allowed for eight valves per cylinder, generating more power than other setups.

Honda's Marysville, Ohio, Motorcycle Plant produced its 1 millionth vehicle in 1996, a Gold Wing Aspencade.

This City Slicker Super Cub built by Steady Garage for SEMA in 2019 sports chopped and shortened front and rear fenders with a retrofitted front suspension, custom hubs, and a custom two-tone green and off-white paint job.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Motorcyclist magazine named the Honda Interceptor its "Motorcycle of the Year" in 1998. The Interceptor was a notable model because it brought much of the technology of a Honda motorcycle only previously seen on the race track to the street.

Additional production capacity for motorcycles was added with plants in China and Vietnam in the 90s and India in 2001. Bangladesh's Honda factory opened in 2013.

In 2017 India became Honda's largest motorcycle market and the next year the company exceeded 20 million annual motorcycle units produced for the first time.

In 1997, Honda produced its 100 millionth motorcycle, Just 11 years later the company celebrated its 200 millionth and seven years after that the company was at 300 million. Now, just five years later, that total has grown to 400 million.

Honda currently produces a wide range of motorcycles, from 50cc commuters to 1,800cc models, at 35 facilities in 21 countries.

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The Honda HR-V has been redesigned for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Honda Motor Company, Ltd.

This third generation of Honda's Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle has arrived, and it's a hybrid. The new, 2022 Honda HR-V advances the look of Honda design as well, showing off fresh design language.

The new HR-V features a boldly designed grille area. It's integrated into the car's entire body, beginning at the face of the car and blending through the SUV's elongated hood. The classic Honda "H" logo sits in the center of the upright grille.

The 2022 HR-V is the second Honda to wear the e:HEV badge, which denotes a hybrid powertrain). The first was the Honda Jazz. In the U.S., the Jazz was called the Fit, but it was discontinued recently, before the new generation made it to the country's shores.

2022 Honda HR-V

Photo courtesy of Honda Motor Company, Ltd.

The Honda HR-V has been redesigned for the 2022 model year.

Though not detailed as part of the new model announcement, Honda is likely to give the HR-V the same powertrain as the Jazz. That's a 1.5-liter engine paired with two electric motors and a fixed gear transmission. There, the result is about 40 less horsepower than the U.S. version of the 2020 HR-V has, but 50 additional pound-feet of torque. The second-generation HR-V was often criticized for being slow off the line, so the extra torque would help there and would likely make up for any perceived horsepower shortfall.

In the Jazz, there's three drive modes: Hybrid, Electric, and Engine. Those could be carried over to the new HR-V.

A coupe-like roofline leads to a small rear window. The liftgate looks narrower in the new generation than it is in the last, especially at its bottom.

Well-designed packaging allows the HR-V to retain class-leading interior space. Honda has equipped the model with soft-touch materials to create a more modern in-cabin aesthetic. Minimalistic design helps the cabin feel large.

Honda has divulged that the HR-V will continue to have the company's Magic Seats, which are able to fold flat or flip up, allowing the crossover to delivery more flexibility than many of its competitors.

Availability in the U.K. is set to start later this year. When and if the new model is coming to the U.S. has yet to be announced. Count on the HR-V jumping across the pond. The company sold nearly 100,000 HR-Vs in the U.S. in 2019 and just over 84,000 in 2020.

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The Nissan Qashqai has been redesigned for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor Corporation

The 2022 Nissan Qashqai has been revealed with Rogue-like looks and a well-appointed interior. Its new design brings it in line with the Nissan Rogue and upcoming Nissan Ariya, a natural progression for the brand.

The new 2022 Qashqai is built on the same Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance platform as the recently redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue and just-debuted 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander. The new architecture has allowed for a longer wheelbase, which increases the overall length of the car by 35 millimeters. Width has expanded by about the same and the car is now 25 millimeters taller.

Those changes meant that rear seat occupants get 28 millimeters more legroom while all occupants can enjoy and extra 15 millimeters of headroom. Additionally, forward, side, and rear visibility has been enhanced thanks to a wider windscreen, thinner pillar design, and side mirrors that are mounted on the door rather than the body.

2022 Nissan Qashqai: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor Corporation

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Now in its third generation, the lead design team from Nissan's European Design Studio int the U.K. set out to make the Qashqai more "muscular, sharp, and modern". Its front end has a fresh interpretation of Nissan's V-Motion grille, finished in chrome with a secondary pinstripe of satin chrome. Thin LED headlights and boomerang signature daytime running lights bring home the Qashqai-Rogue family connection.

Curiously, the Qashqai sports Nissan's old logo, though the car's rear badging is similar to the new Rogue and Pathfinder's.

Globally, Nissan will offer the Qashqai with two- or all-wheel drive thanks to its new E-Power system. The company's design team is giving the Qashqai 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels for the first time, but it's only available on all-wheel drive models. Front-wheel drive versions of the crossover get 19-inches, maximum.

The company will offer the model in 11 body colors and five two-tone combinations, a palette lineup that is similar to what is being offered on the redesigned 2022 Nissan Pathfinder.

The 2022 Qashqai's rear doors now open to 85 degrees, allowing for easier ingress and egress, as well as the ability to comfortably move a car seat in and out, and giving parents easier access to children and packages that occupy the rear seat.


2022 Nissan Qashqai: Interior

Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor Corporation

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Nissan has given the Qashqai a 9-inch infotainment touch screen with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay compatibility. Navigation is available. Drivers can link the vehicles to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

In front of the driver is the same 12.3-inch fully-digital display that has already been seen in the Rogue and Pathfinder. The switch to control the screen is located on the steering wheel and has been given special attention for its feel to the fingers. A 10.8-inch head-up display, the biggest in the Qashqai's segment, is available and able to project navigation, driver assistance, and road information.

Owners can connect to their new Nissan via the NissanConnect Services smartphone app. Users can utilize various vehicle control functions including remote horn and lights, and door lock/unlock. Smart alerts can also be set including speed, time and zone with app notifications should the vehicle exceed the set parameters.

The car comes with front and rear USB-A and USB-C charging ports.

The Qashqai is available with a hands-free power liftgate, which, when opened, gives owners access to over 50-liters more cargo space than the previous generation. This increase can be attributed to the new architecture as well as an improved suspension, which allows the car's cargo floor to be lowered by 20 millimeters. The car's Flexible Luggage Board System has been carried over.

Nissan is equipping the model with the next generation of its ProPilot Assist hands-on driver assist and safety technology. This system is the same as in the U.S. version of the Rogue and uses navigation to help aid drivers who are using the system to predict traffic and road conditions ahead. It's only available on models with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Powertrain Information for the Qashqai, if it indeed goes on sale in the U.S., is likely forthcoming. Global models get a turbocharged 1.3-liter that's a carryover from the previous generation. That engine never made it to America, however. Instead the 2021 Rogue Sport has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder under the hood.

The U.S. got a late start with the Nissan Qashqai, known as the Rogue Sport in America. Even still, the model remains relatively popular with customers making up a significant portion of the Rogue line's total sales. The U.S. may get a late start on the new generation Qashqai as well.

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