Initially established in Torrance, California in 1975 to conduct local market research and design activities, today Honda R&D Americas (HRA) has the capability of "complete product creation" - developing all-new vehicles starting from market and technology research and design styling through engineering design, fabrication and testing, local parts procurement and mass production preparation.
Formally incorporated in 1984, HRA over the past 30 years has steadily expanded the size and scope of its operations to encompass the full range of research, design and development activities for Honda and Acura automobiles as well as Honda motorcycles and Honda power equipment products. In 2007, the company employs more than 1,200 designers, engineers, technicians and other personnel and operates 13 R&D facilities in North America.
Automobile Product Development
Today, approximately 30 percent of all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in America and 50 percent of all U.S. light truck sales are products researched, designed and developed in America. These include some of the company's most innovative and trend-setting cars and light trucks including the Acura MDX and Acura TL, and the Honda Pilot, Element, Ridgeline truck and Civic Coupe and Si. In 2006, the all-new Civic and Ridgeline truck became the first vehicles ever to earn the Car and Truck of the Year awards from Motor Trend magazine, the North American Car of the Year jury and the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. In addition, the 2001 MDX was selected as Motor Trend magazine's 2001 SUV of the Year.
In July 1985, the company established its Ohio Center for vehicle design development in Raymond, Ohio, located between Honda's East Liberty and Marysville, Ohio, manufacturing plants. Initially responsible for the development of derivative models including the 1991 and 1994 Accord wagons and the 1993 Civic Coupe, its first all-new vehicle development and the first to be led by an American engineer was the 1997 Acura CL coupe. Today, the Ohio Center has the ability to develop three all-new products simultaneously and has developed key new products including Acura's two best selling models, the Acura MDX and Acura TL, and Honda's first pickup truck, the Honda Ridgeline.
In addition to its work on new vehicle design and development, HRA is engaged in critically important efforts to advance Honda's research of alternative fuel technologies including natural gas and hydrogen. To this end, the company has taken a leadership role in its work with the California Fuel Cell Partnership as one the earliest participants in the consortium's research and testing activities.
Further, HRA has played an important role in the development and testing of the Honda FCX, the world's most advanced fuel cell vehicle, as well as Honda's unique efforts to create solutions for a hydrogen refueling infrastructure. This includes operation of two of the world's most advanced hydrogen refueling stations at HRA's Los Angeles Center: a solar-powered hydrogen station utilizing Honda-developed solar cells, and the third-generation of the company's Home Energy Station residential hydrogen fueling technology. HRA also supports Honda's U.S. fuel cell vehicle testing program, which encompasses 15 vehicles with seven customers in three states, including the world's first individual customer for a fuel cell vehicle.
Honda R&D America's is also making significant contributions to Honda's safety leadership. The HRA-developed 2001 Civic Coupe was the first small car and one of the first two vehicles in the entire industry to earn the federal government's top (five-star) safety rating in both frontal and side impact tests.
In 2003, the HRA Ohio Center opened a $30M Automotive Safety Research Facility that houses on the world's highest resolution crash test barriers and the world's first pitching crash test simulator. This facility is fulfilling Honda's commitment to leadership in the area of automotive safety and is responsible for the development and testing of all safety systems on its U.S.-developed vehicles.
Major U.S. R&D facilities
Los Angeles Center (Torrance, CA) - established in January 1975, the Los Angeles Center is responsible for market research, concept creation and styling design through three separate studios. The center is also playing a critical role in the development of alternative fuel technologies and operates two of the world's most advanced hydrogen fueling stations.
Ohio Center (Raymond, OH) - established in July 1985, the Ohio Center is responsible for technology research and complete vehicle design and development including body, chassis, interior, electrical, engine application and safety engineering, as well as support of North American and global manufacturing operations and component suppliers. It also operates one of the industry's most sophisticated Automotive Safety Research facilities, established in October, 2003.
North Carolina Center (Swepsonville, NC) - established in August 1993, the North Carolina Center is responsible for design, testing and prototype development and supplier support for Honda power equipment products made in North Carolina.
Transportation Research Center (East Liberty, OH) - purchased by Honda in January 1988, TRC was an existing vehicle research and testing facility originally developed by the state of Ohio. Comprehensive vehicle testing is conducted at the facility's laboratories and test courses including a 7.5-mile banked oval, numerous on-road and off-road dynamic test tracks.
Honda Proving Center of California (Mojave Desert, CA) - established in June 1990, HPCC is responsible for comprehensive vehicle testing including a 7.5-mile oval track and numerous on-road and off-road test courses.
HRA Vehicle Development History
|1989 Honda Accord SEi||HRA performed design styling and local parts procurement for many of the exclusive components of the "Special Edition" vehicle|
|1991 Accord Wagon||First HRA developed "derivative model". Based on the 1990 Accord Sedan for North America and export to Japan and Europe|
|1993 Civic Coupe||First Civic Coupe. A "derivative" model based on the 1992 Civic hatchback.|
|1994 Accord Wagon||First HRA simultaneously developed "derivative model" based on the 1994 Accord Sedan.|
|1997 Acura CL 2.2 (Coupe)||First all-new vehicle development by HRA and the first to be led by an American engineer|
|1997 Acura CL 3.0 (Coupe)||First 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 development by HRA.|
|2001 Acura 3.2CL||Third all-new Acura model with application of new 6-speed manual transmission for V6 engine|
|2001 Acura MDX||Acura's first original SUV - 2001 Motor Trend SUV of the Year and North American Truck of the Year.|
|2001 Civic Coupe||First small car to earn NHTSA five-star safety rating in frontal and side impact (NCAP) crash test ratings|
|2002 Acura TL||Introduction of high performance TL "Type-S" model|
|2003 Honda Pilot||Honda's best-selling SUV - five-time Car and Driver 5 Best Truck.|
|2003 Honda Element||Innovative SUV with flat cargo floor and 'B-pillarless' wide-opening side doors.|
|2004 Acura TL||America's best selling luxury sedan 2004 and 2005.|
|2006 Honda Ridgeline||Honda's first-ever 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 8 plants worldwide|
|2006 Civic Coupe and Civic Si||Sporty 2-door coupe and high-performance Si versions of 8th generation Civic - 2006 North American, Canadian and Motor Trend Car of the Year|
|2007 Acura MDX||Track-tuned at the famed Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, this 2nd generation MDX features bold styling, cutting-edge technology and ample SUV utility, to skillfully balance performance with functionality|