It was a year that saw the death of Sir Winston Churchill
The Sound of Music had its premiere, the Beatles perform the first stadium concert in music history and the Thunderbirds’ first outing on TV. And 1965 was also the year that a Japanese car manufacturer by the name of Honda started trading in the UK. By coincidence, Honda also had its first Grand Prix victory in the legendary RA272, with Ritchie Ginter behind the wheel in Mexico.
As Honda marks 50 years in Britain, it has been celebrating its milestones. Today, it is one of the top 20 biggest brands in the world, employing more than 182,000 people around the world in 40 manufacturing facilities. And it continues to make everything from a 25cc leaf blower to motorbikes, cars and a $4 million business jet. Over the years it has continued to innovate and surprise with everything from family motors like the Jazz to the hot hatch Civic Type-R and its Ayrton Senna-inspired supercar, the NSX. Cars like the early Civic, S2000, S800 coupe and Legend are sought-after classics.
Last year, Honda’s global sales hit 27.3 million units, made up of 17 million motorcycles, six million power products and 4.3 million cars. The European arm employs 8,000 people and last year sold almost 1.4 million products. This year also sees 30 years of Honda of the UK Manufacturing. Its 370-acre site in Swindon employs 3,200 people. HUM has benefitted from a self-funded total investment of £2.2 billion 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 per cent market share. With a product range spanning 65 models, last year, Honda sold 19,000 bikes in the UK. From a motorsport perspective in the UK, Honda has the most successful BSB team in the UK and the BTCC team has just won the drivers and manufacturers championships for 2015.
Philip Crossman, Managing Director at Honda UK, said: “This year marks our golden anniversary in the UK, with 50 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.”