Honda is a company that prides itself on innovating. Whether it is the ASIMO robot or new safety features in the Odyssey, there’s an inherent drive for improvement with the Japanese automaker. Part of it derives from Japan’s culture of diligence and commitment; part of it grew out of the desire to succeed and make money. When I think about the concept of innovation, two quotes come to mind [I couldn’t recall them verbatim, so I did look them up!]…
(1) “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
The insight provided here is the foundation upon which Honda decided to reenter the Formula One racing. A failed attempt last time – devoid of sponsorships and placing 9th of 11 teams – only temporarily dissuaded the Japanese automaker from this intense competition. It plans to return in 2015, partnering with McLaren, with one goal in mind: victory.
Should you have forgotten, Honda has a history of F1 excellence. The company won multiple titles throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including a season in 1988 – partnering with McLaren – that was nearly flawless. Honda based its decision to return to racing on Formula One’s “power unit” rules, which are new to the competition; the rule set a standard for small turbo engine and energy recovery systems.
Yasuhia Arai, Honda’s F1 chief, expects “points in every race” and a number of victories. What Arai really hopes to achieve next year is to “win Grand Prix with McLaren. It is for this reason that we decided to partner with McLaren. We want to make history.”
Even though McLaren will be largely responsible for actually manufacturing the car, Arai emphasized Honda’s role in its development. “But this is not a one-way street – the Formula One project will also benefit from our experience with hybrid technology in production models,” he explained.
(2) “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” – Albert Einstein
Some car manufacturers, even in the past decade, have been somewhat apprehensive to fully commit to new fuel sources. Hybrid vehicles have sold quite well in recent years; however, all-electric vehicles still don’t have a sufficient consumer base – it’s the wonderful human quality of being stubborn. We are fortunate enough that some automakers are willing to break away from what they’ve always did to get something completely new.
Honda plans to launch its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle next year, joining other companies like Toyota and Hyundai. Unlike its competitors, Honda has yet to reveal the vehicle’s design. We can, however, look at the adventurous engineering and architecture of recent concept cars unveiled by the company, such as the AC-X, to glean some schemes that might transfer into a production version.
A low nose and raised tail end, as well as an elongated front windshield—there’s a very sleek and futuristic look ingrained in the AC-X. Most critics agree that while Honda will pursue some avant-garde features, the company may stick to more traditional designs for at least its first iteration.