Honda is the second of the large Japanese manufacturers after Toyota, and sixth-largest manufacturer in the world. Its vehicles have a reputation as sensible, mainstream, highly reliable transport (according to surveys even more reliable than Toyota). Once in a while though, Honda does produce some truly exciting, groundbreaking models like the S2000 and the Type-R versions of some of its mainstream models. The marque is also a leader in diesel, hybrid technologies and alternative fuels. Honda is the biggest global motorcycle producer, and also dabbles in marine engines, power generators, and some unusual fields like robotics, Artificial Intelligence and aerospace and jet-planes.
Honda was started in 1948 by the industrious Soichiro Honda, a self-taught engineer with a burning interest in automobile manufacture. He first worked for Toyota, partnering with them to construct pistons. Then because of a fuel shortage during World War II, he got the bright idea of attaching a small engine to his bicycle. This attracted enough curiosity, and capital, to start the Honda Motor Company, whose first product was the famous Honda Cub motorbike. Honda now produces some 14 million engines annually, and in 2001 overtook Nissan as the second-largest Japanese auto manufacturer. Honda also has a luxury division called Acura.
Honda markets these cars in New Zealand: the Accord, a reputable, immensely reliable midsize sedan and wagon now in its 8th generation- also available as the Mugen 3.5-litre performance variant. The Nelson, New Zealand plant is one of 3 global factories that churn out the Accord. Next is the long-running Civic small sedan that was first introduced in 1972, also available as a hybrid with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Then comes the CRV, a soft-roader SUV that competes with the Toyota RAV-4, followed by the Jazz, a small hatchback with a frugal 1.3-litre engine. Also available is the City, a subcompact sedan known as the Fit Aria in other markets, and the Odyssey, a 5-door, 7-seater minivan.