Life begins for Honda

Image Honda Australia has turned 40 years old.

Honda Australia turns 40

They say life begins at 40. History might suggest it started earlier than that for Honda in Australia.  Honda Australia celebrated its 40th birthday on Wednesday, 4th February 2009.

After setting up in in a two-bedroom flat in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra, Australia is now one of Honda’s leading markets. Honda Australia’s first General Manager, Mr. Hidehiko Shiomi, set up business in a Millswyn Street flat and comprised half of the initial workforce. His colleague at this time was Mr. David Morwood. Over 500 people are now employed by Honda in Australia including the Motorcycle, Power Equipment and Marine Company (Honda MPE) and the Automotive division.

Image Honda’s Australian business was primarily based on motorcycles for the first ten years with Power Equipment and vehicles being added to the corporate line-up when private distributors handed distribution rights back to Honda Australia. Life, Scamp and Z360 may not be familiar model names these days, but were among the first cars that Honda released in Australia. The comparison of these ‘minis’ to current models, such as the Honda Accord Euro which won the 2008 Wheels ‘Car of the Year’ award highlights how progressive the company has remained over 40 years.

Honda MPE Australia’s current Managing Director Stuart Strickland, is proud of Honda’s accomplishments during this time. "Over the last four decades, we have had the pleasure of selling some of the most exciting and innovative products across our entire range onto the Australian market. Even in those early days, Honda was ahead of its time, releasing models that included innovative engine and suspension technologies," Mr Strickland said.

ImageIt took less than a year for Honda to outgrow the South Yarra flat and at the end of 1969, Honda moved to a warehouse complex in Johnston Street, Abbotsford. Honda began manufacturing lawnmowers on the 17th of February 1988, quickly expanding the business with significant volumes to New Zealand, China and the Middle East. Road safety and rider education were catered for with the opening of the Honda Australia Rider Training (H.A.R.T) facility in December 1989, the first in Australia. In October 1991, Honda Motorcycle and Power Equipment Company was formed as a subsidiary of Honda Australia Pty Ltd. Honda motorcycles have dominated the Australian market since then and supply Australia Post with their now famous Postie bikes.

Honda’s Marine division was established in 2001 and immediately gained strong market share with innovative four stroke outboards, breaking new ground with ultra low fuel consumption and emissions. Honda MPE services nearly one thousand dealers and original equipment manufacturers and has annual sales exceeding 200,000 units. Mr Strickland, who has led the company since 1991, remains a driving force behind the success of Honda MPE.

Since it was established, Honda MPE has celebrated a number of significant achievements including:

* Remaining the #1 selling manufacturer of motorcycles in Australia for 10 years running
* Providing services for over 100,000 Honda Riders Club of Australia members
* Introducing the world’s first BF135 and BF150 4-stroke outboardsIntroducing the world’s first 4-stroke blower and hedgecutter
* The production of nearly 500,000 locally made lawnmowers (to be achieved in the first half of 2009).
* Launching Honda MPE Financial Services
* Training well over 100,000 students at Honda Australia Rider Training (HART)
* Establishing the Kilsyth, VIC, St Ives, NSW and QLD HART Centres


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