If General Motors (G.M.) wants to emulate another auto maker, it should look no further than Honda. Honda is what a 21st century “mobility” maker should look like. And it clearly the most innovative of all auto makers.
The company gets more U.S. patents than any other auto maker by a wide margin. With 677 in 2007, it was awarded nearly double the number of Toyota and GM which were second and third, respectively. And Honda’s new Greensburg, Indiana plant (its fifth in the U.S.) that just opened is a model of efficiency.
Honda is also the greenest car company. It largely ignored the gas-guzzling SUV and pickup craze. Sure, it has the Pilot and ungainly Ridgeline which at best (read: highway) deliver 20-23 MPG. But Honda’s seven other models get 25 MPG or better – much better in some cases.
What spurred me to write this post was nothing in about the auto business. Rather, it was what Honda is doing in the Combined Heat and Power area. American Honda just introduced a new home cogeneration unit for heat and electricity. It’s basically a very smart generator that runs on propane to produce heat and power. As part of the freewatt system that can deliver as much as three quarters of a home’s heating and electricity, the freewatt system it promises 30% reduction in greenhouse gases over conventional heating systems and annual electric bill savings for $500-$1,000.
It’s worth reading Honda’s entire mission statement. But I will excerpt the top three paragraphs which emphasize its value proposition in terms of mobility and benefits for society:
“We see the world not as it is, but as it could be.
We see the world through the eyes of dreamers. Because we are a company founded by a dreamer. And we are a company built on dreams.
We see the pursuit of impossible dreams as an empowering force, capable of producing revolutionary ideas. Dreams inspire us to create innovative products that enhance human mobility and benefit society. Honda encourages all of its associates to pursue their dreams. And it’s our mission to share these dreams with others and to make them a reality.”
I could not find a GM mission statement per se at gm.com, but did find one on Google. It’s as follows:
“G.M. is a multinational corporation engaged in socially responsible operations, worldwide. It is dedicated to provide products and services of such quality that our customers will receive superior value while our employees and business partners will share in our success and our stock-holders will receive a sustained superior return on their investment.”
Which one do you find more inspiring? More accurately, which of the two companies are designing and making the right products for the 21st century?
When Honda named its first American model the Civic, one senses they really meant it.