It was the year the Beatles performed the first stadium concert in the history of music, while cartoon heroes Tom and Jerry and the puppet-tastic Thunderbirds first aired on TV. Cigarette advertising was banned on British TV; the Sound of Music premiered and Churchill was buried. On top of that DJ Jazzy Jeff, Alan Cumming, Brooke Shields and Honda’s very own Karen Parry were born.
1965 also saw the year Honda first started trading in the UK. It also saw the first Grand Prix win for Honda in the legendary RA272, thanks to Ritchie Ginther at the Mexico Grand Prix.
In the last five decades, Honda has achieved milestone after milestone. Now one of the top 20 biggest brands in the world, Honda employs over 182,000 employees worldwide and has 40 manufacturing facilities making everything from a 25cc leaf blower to a $4m business jet. Last year, global sales hit 27.3million units, made up of 17 million motorcycles, six million power products and 4.3million cars. The European arm employs 8,000 people and last year sold almost 1.4million products.
This year also sees 30 years of Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM). A 370 acre site in Swindon employing 3,200 people, HUM has benefitted from a self-funded total investment of £2.2bn over the years and will become the global production hub for the five-door Civic.
The motorcycles division is number one in the UK market with almost 20% market share. With a product range spanning 65 models, last year, Honda sold 19,000 bikes in the UK. The power products range has 225 models and last year sold in excess of 50,000 units. Honda is the number one ATV manufacturer in the UK and the third largest outboard manufacturer. From a motorsport perspective in the UK, we have the most successful BSB team in the UK and the BTCC team just won the drivers and manufacturers championships for 2015.
Philip Crossman, Managing Director at Honda UK, commented: “This year marks our golden anniversary in the UK with fifty years of rich history in trading bikes, power products and cars. While this year has been significant in refreshing the car range in its entirety and launching several important new bikes, the Japanese way is to take a much longer viewpoint than just 12 months. “Our business has changed radically over since it launched in the swinging sixties, adapting and evolving to suit the demands of riders and drivers over the years. I can well imagine that Honda will be a completely different organisation in 2065 – but still selling quality and trusted cars, bikes and power products.”
Fifty years of Honda UK sales has produced an ubiquitous brand producing an array of products from generators to a 100bhp lawnmower; whatever next – a HondaJet?
Honda is the world’s largest engine manufacturer. Furthermore, 2014 saw over 50 million motorcycles and power products recorded as having been produced in Thailand so ‘Honda’ is synonymous with ‘motorcycle’ like ‘Hoover’ is for vacuum cleaner.
More recently, reiterating that Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden was victorious in the recent British Touring Car Championship and the Swindon plant is set to become a global manufacturing hub for the five-door Civic. From having the oldest UK model range, the Tokyo-based company has metamorphosised into the newest within just one year! Last week at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, Honda had an area featuring generators which has its origin in their first product, the Honda A-Type auxiliary bicycle engine.
There appears to be a philanthropy that continues beyond advertising and marketing-speak; for example, since 1999, the research and development of the Walking Assist Device, based on the theory of human walking was conducted through research and development of Honda’s advanced humanoid robot, Asimo. Furthermore, a high access survey robot developed jointly by Honda and AIST began work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
As for that HondaJet, the Power of Dreams will turn it into reality – soon!
Press release and larger photos are courtesy and copyright of Honda UK
Editorial and smaller photos are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou