Western consumers know Honda mainly for its cars: it is the #3 Japanese auto manufacturer worldwide behind Toyota and Nissan. But throughout Asia the company is famed for the motorbikes on which the business was originally built. Honda is the world's leading bike manufacturer, selling almost 20 million of them in 2017, nearly four times the number of automobiles it shipped. In the car division, Honda's top models have traditionally been the ever-popular Civic and Accord. The latter has been a huge hit for 40 years, especially in the US. Honda was the first Japanese carmaker to establish a manufacturing presence there, almost 40 years ago, and it now has 12 factories across the nation. More recently these two models have been joined at top table by the CR-V compact SUV. In calendar 2018, Honda was the global #5 car brand with sales of 5.04m vehicles. Globally, the Civic was the 4th best-selling car worldwide with shipments of over 833k units; the CR-V was #7 at 744k; the Accord at #16 with 515k. The CR-V and Civic were both among the Top Ten in the US. The group's luxury automobile range is marketed in the US, China and a few other markets under the Acura brand. Until the crisis which enveloped virtually all the world's auto manufacturers during 2008, Honda had demonstrated strong growth because of its emphasis on affordable, reliable, cheap-to-run vehicles. However it has lagged behind Toyota and Nissan in Western markets. A rare but significant misstep was its inability to convert an early lead in hybrid fuel technology into actual sales. It aimed to make up for that error with an aggressive rollout of other hybrid models between 2009 and 2012, and established a lead in hydrogen-powered fuel cells which operate without gasoline and emit only water vapour. Yet this technology has been overshadowed by an industry-wide push towards pure electric vehicles and self-driving technology, two other areas in which Honda lags behind its rivals. Unlike other auto manufacturers, Honda also has a broad range of interests in other segments including marine engines, power equipment, small jet aircraft and even humanoid robotics. Takahiro Hachigo is president & CEO of Honda. Revenues for the year to Mar 2018 were approx $138.6bn. Automobiles accounted for just over 70% of sales and motorcycles for another 13%. US tax reforms lifted net profits to a best-ever $9.6bn. North America accounted for over half of revenues. Japan generated 12%, the rest of Asia 25% and Europe less than 5%.
Capsule checked 19th March 2019
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Historical profile information for Honda
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Mar 2020: "Feel More". So whatever happened to Honda's shock decision in 2018 to transfer pan-European creative into a newly created and entirely untested agency under the control of Japanese agency Hakuhodo? Few could understand the logic (unless purely financial) of moving away from Wieden & Kennedy London and indeed McGarryBowen London, both of whom had turned out such impressive work for the brand for so many years. Well here we are two years later, and if the Hakuhodo Collective did indeed deliver any decent ads they completely passed us by. Instead, here's a fabulous new spot from Wieden & Kennedy London, which in typical style, delivers a spectacular and visually arresting film that proves, if nothing else, that they should have stayed on the account all along. Had they done so, maybe Honda's UK car sales wouldn't have dropped by more than 16% year on year in 2019, more than any other auto manufacturer in the UK's top 25. Just saying...
Adbrands Social Media 6th Mar 2019: "The Hybrid You Can Feel". The first big campaign from Honda's new pan-European agency is a big disappointment compared to the fine work we've come to expect from the local offices of Wieden & Kennedy and McGarryBowen. Hakuhodo Collective is a dedicated unit drawing upon that Japanese group's handful of European subsidiaries, most notably the Paris outpost of Sid Lee. You might have expected better from that usually interesting agency. These are supposedly genuine testimonials from a collection of "real" Honda drivers across Europe. They're all suspiciously photogenic though, with distinctively actorly voices, and I've never heard such manufactured-sounding endorsements. "Onroad, offroad... it's still a road, right?" "It's like I can drive further than the horizon." Seriously, who talks like that apart from a copywriter? We already know Europe is, financially at least, one of Honda's least important regions. This Euro-pudding really emphasises that fact.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Feb 2019: Honda put a large questionmark over its commitment not just to the UK but to all of Europe by announcing plans to close its factory in Swindon in Western England. It is currently the carmaker's only factory in Europe. The closure will result in the loss of around 3,500 jobs; Honda said its decision was not influenced by the Brexit crisis, but rather the global shift towards electric vehicles, as well as the comparatively minor part Europe already plays in its global profile. The region contributed less than 5% of global revenues in Honda's most recent financial year. The company said it will continue to sell its vehciles in Europe but that all production will be consolidated in the US and Asia.
Adbrands Social Media 9th Oct 2018: "See Where Different Takes You". Wieden & Kennedy London engages in some visual and aural word jazz for Honda with the assistance of rapper and artist Kojey Radical. It's not perhaps a jaw-dropping as some of the agency's other recent work for the carmaker, but striking nonetheless. In a shock decision earlier this year Honda actually moved their main account out of W&K into a new dedicated shop under the management of Japanese agency Hakuhodo. However, no work has yet materialised. W&K remain on board for special projects, and also, for the time being it seems, the main creative account as well.
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th Oct 2018: Honda is joining Japanese investor Softbank as a key supporter of GM Cruise, the self-driving technology being developed by General Motors. Honda will acquire will invest $2.75bn in the project, in return for a 6% stake. $750m is being paid now, with the rest in stages over the next decade. Softbank pledged $2.25bn earlier this year, for a near-20% stake in the venture. GM Cruise is being established as a separate standalone business in order to attract technology investors who are wary of the traditional automobile industry.
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