By Bill Schaffer
San Marcos, Calif. — I?ve often heard Honda say they are the largest engine manufacturer in the world, but until I started seeing all the great everyday products they produce, it had never really registered with me.
By numbers alone, Honda sold 28 million engines globally last year. The engines include everything from little 1 hp four-stroke engines that power lawn and garden equipment to 250 hp outboard engines for boats to the new turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the 2016 Honda Civic to the jet engine that powers the new HondaJet, and as they say — everything in between.
The Honda Public Relations team had a great idea, why not show off a Dream Garage with a sampling of all the types of engines Honda builds. This would give the automotive press and writers who specialize in boats, lawn and garden equipment and other powered products a chance to see the whole works.
That?s exactly what hold did at a recent get-together on the shores of Lake San Marcos, north of San Diego. In addition to being an attractive setting, the lake was perfect to show off a couple of outboard motors, too.
Obviously we couldn?t see everything, but we did get a great sampling of existing Honda powered products along with some future products including an advanced mobility device called the Uni-Cub. This strange looking personal mobility device allows one person to sit on top it, so that he/she was about at the same eye level of standing adult and then move about at walking speeds, controlling it simply by shifting weight in the direction you want to travel.
Another machine I was intrigued with was the Miimo autonomous lawn mower, which looked similar to the iRobot (on steroids) that we use to vacuum our floors at home, only this one was moving the grass.
Before dinner, I went for a ride on the lake in a quiet and quite fast pontoon boat. They had a couple of different four-cycle engines sizes which has been adapted from four-cylinder and V-6 Honda Accord engines.
The only engine that was conspicuously absent was the new Honda Jet, but I have my fingers crossed that I?ll get to see it someday.
The next morning my driving partner and I drove a 2016 Honda Accord Coupe to Pacifica Ranch near Rancho Santa Fe, where Honda had set up off-road test drives of their motorcycles, ATVs, side by sides (off-road vehicles that carry up to 4 people) and most of the cars and trucks from the Honda lineup.
I?m not licensed to ride a motorcycle, so that was out, but I did get to try out the side-by-side, and it?s a blast. It?s like driving a small-size (pardon the expression Honda) Jeep. They even had a terrific off road course to show how well the new Honda Pilot SUV with Intelligent Traction Management climbs up a hill in deep sand.
One of the more interesting demonstrations was getting to use a snow blower in the 85 degree California heat. I plowed through about 18 inches of sawdust ? yes, I said sawdust, because they were short of snow — with the new Hybrid snow blower. Evidently they use sawdust in the development process, too, because it has a consistency and texture similar to snow. The unique hybrid system generates electricity to power an electric motor that moves the snow-throwing unit forward, while the gas engine powers the cross auger which throws the snow (or sawdust) wherever the operator wants it to go. It almost made me wish we had snow where I live in southern Washington State?but I think I?ll settle for rain.
The Honda Garage was an amazing virtual address filled with all the wonderful tools and toys most of us would like to have in our real garages. Thanks for the tour, Honda and when do we get to see the jet?
As much fun as it was to play in sawdust and create a dust trail behind the side-by-side, the highlight of the day was the 2016 Honda Accord coupe and sedan.
To learn more about Honda go to?http://www.honda.com/
Read about the new Accord next?