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HONDA

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There's hardly anything that moves that Honda doesn't manufacture: from lawnmowers to motorcycles, cars, planes, and even robots, the Japanese conglomerate is everywhere. 

Honda's adventure with automobiles began in August 1963 with the T360 mini pickup truck built for the Japanese market. It beat the more famous S500 to market by four months, becoming the first Honda production automobile.

The beginnings were humble, and it's amazing how far Honda has come since 1963. The T360 was powered by a tiny 356-cc four-cylinder gasoline engine, which placed it into the cheaper Kei car tax bracket. The S500 Sports that followed featured a larger displacement variant of the same unit (531 cc) that delivered 44 hp at 8,000 rpm, with the high rpm and the chain-driven rear wheels betraying Honda's motorcycle origins.

The Japanese automaker is now a global giant that covers all vehicle segments (including luxury with the Acura brand). It's particularly strong in North America, where it knew how to take advantage of the 1973 oil crisis to build small, affordable, reliable cars. 

One of Honda's most popular models, the Civic, launched in 1972 as the replacement for the brand's first two-door hatchback, the N360 (sold as the N600 in export markets). The Civic nameplate goes on to this day as a global line of compact cars and is now in its 10th generation. Other popular Honda vehicles are the CR-V (one of the first compact crossovers), the 
Accord midsize sedan (particularly successful in the United States), the Fit subcompact (sold as the Jazz in Europe), and the Legend full-size sedan. 

Honda is also a pioneer of alternative mobility, launching its first production hybrid car, the Insight, in 1999. The Insight was the first mass-produced hybrid automobile sold in the United States, beating the Toyota Prius by seven months.

Many other hybrid Hondas followed, including the Civic, Accord (also available as a plug-in hybrid from 2013), CR-Z, Fit, to name just the best-known models.  

Honda also built its first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in 2008, the FCX Clarity, but customers could only lease it. The first Honda hydrogen fuel-cell car that one could actually buy arrived in late 2016 as the Clarity Fuel Cell.

Honda has chosen hydrogen fuel cell cars over battery-powered all-electric vehicles, as the EV Plus (1997-1999) experimental vehicle was only followed by the Fit EV in 2012, of which little more than 1,000 units were made.

And how could we forget the Honda/Acura NSX, the sports car Ayrton Senna himself helped develop? From 2016, the name is once again present in the company's lineup as a tech-laden hybrid supercar with three electric motors.

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