Honda Recaps More than Three Decades of R&D in America
TORRANCE, Calif. — Last week, Honda highlighted 35 years of research and development that began in southern California at Honda R&D Americas by emphasizing how much of its vehicle lineup is created in the United States.
The automaker shared that seven of 21 Honda and Acura units from the 2010 model-year that are sold in the U.S. were researched, designed and developed in America. The company added that the same work for five of its eight truck models also was orchestrated here.
Some of the vehicles included in this group are the Acura MDX, TL and ZDX, and the Honda Pilot, Element (with B pillar-less side), Ridgeline (with In-Bed Trunk) and Civic Coupe/Coupe Si.
The automaker established Honda R&D Americas in southern California back in 1975 to conduct local market research and design. Officials contend HRA now has the capability of "complete product creation, developing all-new vehicles starting from market and technology research and design-styling through engineering design, prototype fabrication and testing, local parts procurement, and support for mass production preparation."
Another example the OEM shared about the division conducting all of those tasks was the 2011 Honda Odyssey.
"Both dynamically styled and technologically advanced products were designed and developed locally from initial product concept all the way through to support for mass production," Honda said about the newest version of its family vehicle.
The company pointed out that this domestic division has since expanded significantly during the past 35 years.
Officials explained that the Honda R&D Americas Los Angeles Center and three California-based design studios are responsible for market research, concept development and styling for Honda and Acura products. The noted three specific aspects:
—The Honda Design Studio (part of the Los Angeles Center) is responsible for the market research, concept development and styling design of new, production Honda-brand vehicles and motorcycles.
—The Acura Design Studio, which opened in May 2007 in Torrance, is responsible for the market research, concept development and styling design of new, production Acura vehicles. Officials said the 2010 Acura ZDX is the first production vehicle developed wholly within the confines of the new studio.
—The Advanced Design Studio, which opened in December 2006 in Pasadena, is responsible for creating future design concepts for Honda and Acura products and works closely with leading design schools. Officials mentioned the studio developed the FC Sport fuel cell electric vehicle concept in 2008 and the P-NUT urban commuter concept last year.
In addition to its work on new-vehicle design and development, the automaker emphasized that Honda R&D Americas is engaged in programs to advance alternative-fuel technologies, including natural gas and fuel cell electric vehicles. Some of the ongoing initiatives include:
—Supporting the development and deployment of the limited production FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle, launched in July 2008 with the start of leasing to selected customers in southern California.
—Development and operation of a prototype Honda Solar Hydrogen Station utilizing Honda-developed thin-film solar cells. Officials recapped that HRA began operating a next-generation system their headquarters this past January. They explained the new system is able to provide hydrogen for daily commuting in a fuel cell electric vehicle — about 10,000 miles per year — via an eight-hour overnight fill without the need for a compressor, reducing system cost, complexity and size.
—Collaborative research of the Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle's environmental benefits and customer usage to support the sales and marketing of natural gas-powered vehicles and the expansion of refueling infrastructure to help support retail vehicle sales.
Beyond eye-catching design and environment impact, Honda also stressed that HRA delves deep into technological advances associated with safety. Among some of the highlights officials wanted to note:
—The HRA Ohio Center includes an automotive safety research facility that officials said houses one of the world's highest resolution crash test barriers and the world's first pitching crash test simulation sled. They pointed out this facility is responsible for the development and testing of nearly all safety systems on its U.S.-developed vehicles.
—Officials highlighted the HRA-developed 2001 Civic Coupe was the first compact vehicle to earn a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Five-Star rating for safety performance in both frontal and side impacts.
—The company emphasized several of its units that received NHTSA Five-Star frontal and side impact ratings and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick ratings came through an HRA studio. That list includes the Honda Element, Pilot and Ridgeline and the Acura MDX and TL.
The automaker recapped where its major North American R&D facilities are located, when it opened and its specialization:
—Los Angeles Center: Torrance, Calif. (1975). Automobile and motorcycle market research and concept development, including Honda Design Studio.
—Ohio Center: Raymond, Ohio (1985). Automobile and motorcycle research and development and automotive safety research facility.
—North Carolina Center: Swepsonville, N.C. (1993). Power equipment product research, development and testing.
—Advanced Design Studio: Pasadena, Calif. (2006). Advanced concept development for next-generation Honda and Acura products.
—Acura Design Studio: Torrance, Calif. (2007). Market research, concept development and styling design for future Acura vehicles.
—Marine Engine Research Facility: Grant-Valkaria, Fla. (2008). Marine engine research and testing.
The automaker also shared a time line of some of its noteworthy vehicle developments coming out of HRA:
—1989 Honda Accord SEi: First American-led U.S. SED developed model, coordinating U.S. sales, manufacturing and R&D.
—1991 Accord Wagon: First HRA developed "derivative model" based on the 1990 Accord Sedan for North America and exported to Japan and Europe.
—1993 Civic Coupe: First Civic Coupe, a "derivative model" based on the 1992 Civic hatchback.
—1994 Accord Wagon: First HRA "derivative model" developed simultaneously with its base unit, the 1994 Accord Sedan.
—1997 Acura CL 2.2 (Coupe): First U.S.-developed Acura, first all-new vehicle development by HRA and the first development led by an American engineer.
—1997 Acura CL 3.0 (Coupe): First Honda or Acura vehicle to receive all-new, high-output V6 engine.
—1997 Acura 1.6EL: New Acura model developed exclusively for Canadian market.
—1998 Accord Coupe: First Accord Coupe with exclusive exterior styling.
—1999 Acura 3.2TL: Second all-new Acura model developed by HRA.
—2001 Acura 3.2CL: HRA's third all-new Acura model and first to apply new 6-speed manual transmission for V6 engines.
—2001 Acura MDX: First luxury SUV with standard third-row seating and 2001 Motor Trend SUV of the Year and North American Truck of the Year
—2001 Civic Coupe: First small car and first coupe to earn NHTSA Five-Star safety rating in frontal and side impact crash test ratings.
—2002 Acura TL: Introduction of high-performance TL "Type-S" model.
—2003 Honda Pilot: First eight-passenger crossover vehicle and five-time winner of Car and Driver 5Best Truck Award.
—2003 Honda Element: Innovative SUV with flat cargo floor, washable interior surfaces and B-pillar-less, wide-opening side doors.
—2004 Acura TL: Second-generation of the TL developed by HRA, and America's best selling luxury sedan in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
—2006 Honda Ridgeline: Honda's first-ever in the United States and highly innovative pickup truck: 2006 Motor Trend, North American, and Canadian, Truck of the Year
—2006 Accord Sedan and Coupe: Mid-model refresh of 2003 Accord. First time HRA is responsible for global launch of new model including coordination of production launch in eight plants worldwide.
—2006 Civic Coupe and Civic Si: Sporty two-door coupe and high-performance Si versions of eighth generation Civic: 2006 North American, Canadian, and Motor Trend Car of the Year
—2007 Acura MDX: Second generation of U.S. development for MDX, including the application of advanced new chassis and electrical system technologies researched and developed by HRA.
—2009 Honda Pilot: Second generation of U.S. development for Honda's award-winning, mid-size, eight passenger SUV.
—2009 Acura TL: Third generation of U.S. development for Acura's top-selling luxury sedan.
—2010 Acura ZDX: An all-new Acura vehicle concept — a 4-door coupe with SUV versatility and sports car-like dynamic performance.