Japanese-built vs American-built Hondas

I was thinking about “good morning” in Japanese, which is phonetically similar. But thanks for teaching me something today.

It seems to me that the thought that goes into the design and the engineering of the venicle is more important than where the vehicle is assembled. The assembly plants only put together the components. The first Honda Civics and Accords had severe rust problems with the front fenders and these cars were assembled in Japan. The Chevrolet Vega would have been a disaster no matter what country assembled the car.

The design of the car and the specifications for the parts are what is important. Where the final assembly takes place probably doesn’t make much difference. I have a 2003 Toyota 4Runner that was assembled in Japan and a 2011 Toyota Sienna that was assembled in LaFayette, Indiana. Both cars seem well put together.

Well put, this is just as important for industrial products. A few years ago I was in South American working with a refinery manager. He complained about a certain well known US pump as being of inferior quality.

I was puzzled, until he told me that this pump was BUILT UNDER LICENSE by a firm in Argentina! In other words, getting the blueprints for a good product does not insure you can actually build it as good. Unless the manufacturer himself manages the manufacturing process, and applies the same quality control.

There are some exceptions, of course. The Japanese licensed steam turbines from the US. In a few years their quality was as good or better than the original.

The Russians “reverse-engineered” (copied) a number of US designs (e.g. 1955 Packard/Zil) and the results were disastrous.

I drive a 2003 Pontiac Vibe, which is a Toyota Matrix aka Toyota Corolla wagon. It was assembled in Fremont California. It has 165000 miles on it and it has never had any problem of any kind. It doesn’t get any better than perfect. I am hoping to get 300000+ miles out of it before my now 7 year old son starts driving it…

You are correct in wondering. And the fact is that they are indeed a better product. I was talking with a women who works at a Honda dealership about this very issue and she said can tell which ones were made in Japan just by looking at them. I have and have had several Honda’s and simply by chance bought my latest Honda and it was made in Japan. In over 200,000 miles I have only had to change the internal door lock mechanism of a door that never gets used. Not the case with my other Honda’s that were made in the US. Less miles and many more issues. When you go online to check parts they will ask was it made in Japan or elsewhere, so they ARE NOT made with the same parts. There must be a reason. Not sure of the reason, but I am definitely sure the quality is better from Japan.

I’m inclined to agree.
I’d add that the other major influence is the management. Automobiles built to designs forged with Japanese oversight and manufactured under Japanese management systems are still, I believe, overall better than automobiles designed and built under the management of the U.S. automotive industry.

But with all the “branding”, and all the “partnerships”, and all the “offshore manufacturing” in the industry today, it’s getting muddled. It’s getting sometimes difficult to tell who designed a vehicle and where it was manufactured. VW owns Bentley and Bugatti, Kia owns Chrysler, Hyundai owns Kia, Toyota partnered with Subaru for the F86 (or whatever they’re calling it now), I read that Toyota is partnering with BMW for a design, heck, I get all confused.

No, Hondas have been built in the US for over 30 years. Engines, other large components and the final assembly are all built in the US - Ohio, Indiana and more. There is no difference in quality between the US and Japan built cars.

Additionally, Hondas have been DESIGNED in the US by US citizens for most of that period. These fine folks work at the Honda R&D facility in central Ohio. The first cars designed in US were the 1989 Accord sedan, coupe and wagon. Examples in the 2000’s include the Pilot, the Acura MDX, Ridgeline, Acura ZDX, and the Odyssey minivan.

That’s true, but they’re designed and manufactured under systems developed in Japan…
“Design for Manufacturing” (DFM) and “Statistical Process Control” (SPC) are the best known of many techniques that enhance the quality of the ultimate product.

I absolutely believe that U.S. workers are as good as or better than any others in the world. Unfortunately, the management from Detroit still has some catching up to do. :smile:


Agree 100%. Management in Detroit wants to make vehicles good enough. Their goal is highest possible profit NOW…NOT 4 years from now…but NOW.

Should I say ’ Thank You ’ for reviving a 7 year old thread and posting complete nonsense ?

Yes you should, and you’re welcome.


Agree 100%!

Toyota built great Corollas in California with UAW labor so not the unions…

Honda engineers great cars in the US with US engineers so its not the engineers…

Very true, that’s where my 92 Corolla was built. Toyota – as opposed to Honda apparently – manufactured the engines and transmissions and bolted them together and tested as a unit in Japan however, then shipped to California. The rest of the car was built in California. At least for the early 90’s. Not sure if the Calif plant ever used Calif built engines.

Years ago there were huge tariffs on finished products from Japan that did not apply to parts and assemblies. Japan got around the tariffs by shipping assemblies to be finished in the U.S. My '79 Toyota pickup’s bed was made in Long Beach, the entire rest of the truck made in Japan and shipped here as an “assembly”. The bed was then added in Long Beach to make it a complete vehicle. I believe the tariffs may still have been in effect in the very early '90s.

My 2010 Honda Insight (as were all Insights) was made in Japan and doesn’t burn a drop of oil. Before 2012 some genius (I assume in Japan) decided to change the piston ring design (another assumption), and the '12, '13, and (maybe) '14 models have oil burning problems. Mistakes are made everywhere.

Sounds like you’re describing the “chicken tax” :chicken:

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I hadn’t heard it called that, but a rose by any other name… :smile:

I believe it was started during Johnson’s administration

Probably. The very late '60s were when the “big three’s” market segments began to feel the effects of the Japanese auto imports.

Let me add a little more to this post. She was a retired quality control inspector from Framingham, MA who had worked at both a Honda facility and a Toyota facility. She was driving a Camry that she said was made in Japan. She said she could tell by the fit and finish, door gaps, etc. I personally believe her and my personal experience has since corroborated her statements. I checked into this post because I’m gonna be buying another CRV and want my money to be well spent.