It was in Europe that we built our first factory outside Japan, a huge undertaking for the time. Motorcycle manufacturing began in Aalst in May 1963. A Super Cub 100 was the first bike to leave the production line.
Because Soichiro dreamed of being number 1.
Honda’s first overseas expansion was to North America but Europe wasn’t far behind. We began investigating how we could grow in Europe, eventually settling on a site in Belgium as the hub for our efforts.
Our car manufacturing presence in Europe came about through working with BL. In the late 70s they were looking for a partner with which to develop a high-quality, small saloon car.
We quickly agreed they could licence-build our new Ballade that was about to be launched in Japan. When EU sales of this model began in 1981 it was renamed as the Triumph Acclaim and was a great success.
From this original licencing deal grew 15 years of partnership that saw joint ventures such as the 1986 Legend and 1993 Accord as well as other technology sharing. In 1985, we chose a 370-acre site in Swindon, UK as the location for our first European car production plant - Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM).
Our technicians are devoted to attention to detail and quality control, nothing is overlooked.
The Home of the Civic 5 door, the Civic Type R and the CR-V, all built right here at Honda of the UK Manufacturing, Swindon.
Engine production started in 1989 and the first Honda built by us in Europe, the Accord, was made from 1992. European Civic production began in 1994, and we started building the CR-V there in 2000.
The growth of Honda in Europe saw UK-built CR-Vs exported to North America for the first time in 2002. Reflecting local market demand, we started building our first diesel engine here in 2005 and in 2007 we celebrated the production of the 1 millionth Civic built in Europe.
A year later, champagne corks popped again: we had built our 2 millionth car in Europe; the 3 millionth car was built at Swindon in 2015.
Our Swindon factory is, today, thriving. It’s the global hub for Civic five-door production, exporting to 70 countries worldwide and with half of the cars built there now going to the United States. Total investment in the site since 1989 exceeds £2.2 billion; all of which capital investment has been from within Honda's own resources.
To support our manufacturing and sales requirements we have three R&D sites in Europe. Two for cars, in the UK and Germany and one for motorcycles, in Italy.
Almost uniquely for Honda, the Civic five-door is only built at HUM. Wherever in the world you see one, you know it was made in Europe.