Honda Making English Its Official Language by 2020

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole
honda making english its official language by 2020

In its 104-page annual sustainability report, Honda announced it would make English its official language by 2020, requiring all interregional communication be conducted in English. Similarly, English-language proficiency would be a requirement for promotion to management. The new mandate appears on Page 70 of the report.

Despite burying the lede, it’s a seismic change for the Japanese company. According to Automotive News, five years ago then-boss Takanobu Ito said — possibly in Japanese — that making English the official language of Honda was “stupid.” Five years from now, presumably all of Honda’s workforce, which includes more than 200,000 people — nearly three-quarters of it outside of North America — will be speaking the language.

Honda’s official stance on English isn’t wholly surprising, or new.

According to a report by The Economist in February 2014, Honda was keen on adopting “Corporate English” throughout the company and following suit with many other global manufacturers. Chinese tech giant Lenovo made English its lingua franca. Same goes for Nokia, Renault and Samsung.

Only one quarter of Honda’s workforce is in North America, but accounted for nearly one third of its new hires for 2015. Honda’s move to English is emblematic of its reality: 40 percent of Honda’s sales are in North America and 81 percent of its vehicles are assembled outside of Japan.

Included in the report is an outlook for the future of Honda’s manufacturing in North America.

The U.S. will add more than 3.4 million manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years, the report states, but will have only 1.4 million people to fill those jobs. Honda says they will implement a program in Ohio — where Honda builds cars — to teach middle- and high-school students how to fill those jobs with video games, or by directly funding STEM programs in some schools.

There’s been no word on whether Buick will be making the switch to Mandarin.

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jul 04, 2015

    I watched Back To The Future (30th anniversary edition) yesterday - they travel to the future - year 2015 and sky is full of flying cars and other stuff we enjoy today and Japanese of course dominated the world. There was no mentioning of Chinese in this movie who will actually dominate the world in 2045.

    • See 1 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 06, 2015

      @darex Regular television sitcoms at the time were full of these references to Japanese dominance. And racist portrayals of Japanese stereotypes. And look at Die Hard!

  • Magnusmaster Magnusmaster on Jul 05, 2015

    At this rate the only language left will be English. Good news for the English and the Americans, bad news for everyone else who will have part of their culture destroyed. Very convenient, though.

    • See 1 previous
    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Jul 06, 2015

      Not likely we'll all standardize on one language. There are just too many still-disconnected populations out there. But I think it's entirely likely that in 50 years you'll only need to know five languages to conduct business in any country in the world: English, Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, and French. (And French and Russian will be less important than the other three.)

  • Wjtinfwb I've seen worse on the highways around Atlanta, usually with a refrigerator or washer wedged into the trunk and secured with recycled twine...
  • Wjtinfwb Surprising EB Flex hasn't weighed in yet on it being the subject of a recall...
  • Gabe Awesome. Owners can cook their DNA with EMFs while watching YouTube now.
  • Cardave5150 Why oh why are they resurrecting the ZDX name??? It’s not like the last one was anything other than an overpriced freak show. Just use 3 other random letters!
  • Gemcitytm Why does it seem every EV seems to have ridiculous amounts of power? Yes, I know they're heavier than ICE models but who on earth needs 708 HP? How about a nice, compact EV with, say, 250 HP and 350-400 mile range? Is that impossible with today's tech? (I currently drive a 148 HP Mazda 3 ICE and it has all the get-up-and-go I need.)