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History of Honda

The Honda Motor Company was founded in 1948 by Soichiro Honda. Honda had been working in the auto-repair industry since 1922; he began his career as an apprentice at the Art Shokai garage and was eventually promoted to manager of the garage's Hamamatsu branch. While working for Art Shokai, Honda became passionate about automobiles and learned many of the skills that would help build the Honda Motor Company. Shortly before World War II, Honda founded Tokai Seiki and began to manufacture piston rings for Toyota. Although his company didn't survive the war, the relationships he built would be instrumental for his later success.

In 1946, Honda was inspired to begin producing makeshift motorcycles when he saw a surplus generator engine in a friend's workshop. He founded the Honda Technical Research Institute to begin retrofitting these engines onto bicycle frames, providing an affordable form of transportation for the post-war Japanese market. After Honda's original supply of engines ran out, he and his workers began drafting plans for a new engine.

In 1947, the Institute successfully designed and produced its first original engine, the Honda A-type. Following the success of this engine, the Technical Research Institute was incorporated as the Honda Motor Company on September 24, 1948. Soon after, in 1949, Honda released its first complete motorcycle, the D-type or Dream. However, while initial sales of the Dream were strong, an economic recession caused sales of the Dream to fall.

By early 1949, Soichiro Honda had realized a fundamental flaw with his company: He and his staff could make excellent products, but none of them had experience with connecting to consumers and creating a market for their products. To address this problem, Honda brought on Takeo Fujisawa to serve as managing director. Fujisawa helped Honda to secure a major order for engines following the start of the Korean War, bringing the company back to profitability.

The Honda Motor Company had become the world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles by 1964. In 1963, the company released its first automobile, the T360 pick-up truck. Later that same year, Honda released the S500 sports car. Many of its flagship vehicles would be released in the coming years; the Civic was first introduced in 1972 and the Accord in 1976.

Today, Honda is one of the leading auto, motorcycle, and engine manufacturers. More than 3.5 million Honda automobiles have been built in 2012 alone. Honda is recognized for its commitment to innovation and efficiency; the Honda Insight was the first commercially available hybrid in North America.