Automobiles are cars that are primarily used for transportation of people. Most definitions of the term include four wheels and a seating capacity from one to eight passengers. A motor vehicle that has two wheels is sometimes called a motorcycle. However, there are several legal cases that have ruled motorcycles not to be automobiles.
The automobile industry in the United States flourished in the late twentieth century, with a number of auto manufacturers competing for a share of the market. Some of the top auto makers in the world were Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. They all positioned themselves as the “Big Three” of the automotive industry.
The American automobile industry grew during the early years of the twentieth century, as new designs and technologies were introduced. The car had become a widely accepted mode of transportation, especially in rural areas. But, the automobile industry had faced a few challenges during the 1920s. For example, automobiles were expensive and often lacked reliability. Also, many roads in the U.S. did not have commuter railroads, so automobiles were necessary to get to work and shopping.
After World War II, the automotive industry regrouped, as manufacturing plants began to produce more cars. In Japan, automobile production rose to a high level. But, it was thought that Japan could not compete with other Asian countries. Thus, motorcycles were imported from Europe. In fact, the first motorcycles to arrive in Southeast Asia were European.
Then, in 1961, American Honda launched a major ad campaign for their Super Cub. The Super Cub was a compact, quiet motorcycle that appealed to both men and women. The ad featured a professional design with a brightly colored illustration and respectable riders. The Super Cub also had twice the horsepower of competing products.
Despite the sales success of the Super Cub, American Honda was still facing a tough road ahead. The company had established a target of selling 1,000 units per month. They had to cut advertising costs to make it affordable for the average consumer. In addition, American Honda began to seek sales outlets nationwide. As a result, each sales person covered a wide area of the country.
In June 1959, Kawashima relocated to Los Angeles. He purchased a former photo studio on West Pico Boulevard, where he set up an office. He reported to Fujisawa. As a result of the move, Kawashima was able to experience the American automobile sales environment. He had an appreciation for the potential of the country and knew that the path ahead would not be easy.
He believed that if Honda wanted to succeed in the U.S., it should be able to sell durable goods without relying on third-party legwork. This was a big concern, as he believed that if a third party was involved, it would hinder Honda’s business interests.
It was then that Kawashima began to sense that his company’s sales were reaching a limit. He urged the Honda R&D Center to come up with new products for the American consumer. They worked to develop a design that would satisfy the needs of the average American driver. In 1974, the Civic’s fuel economy was tested, and it surpassed the American car industry’s average mileage. The Civic’s excellent performance won the support of the public.