Honda N-series sales in the USA
The main export market for the N-series was the United States. In 1969 Honda started the export of the N600 to Hawai, followed by exports to the Westcoast states in 1970. The Honda N600 was the first Honda car to be officially imported into the United States as the S-series small sports cars were only privately imported. Honda of North America initially sold the N600 through its motorcycle retail network.
The US customer was not used to small cars. American highways were populated by very large rear wheel drive cars. The smallest cars sold were the Ford Pinto, Chevrolet Vega and the VW Beetle. All of these cars were longer then 4 meters, while the N600 barely exceeded 3 meters. Americans already regarded a car such as the Ford Maverick as a compact car, even though it had a length of 4.70 meters. The Honda N600 was more or less a class of its own. Honda decided to target young americans wanting to upgrade from their C100 Super Cubs. The N600 had a price tag of 1.395 dollars when it was launched, making it very affordable.
The popularity of automatic transmissions in the US market was an important reason why Honda introduced the Hondamatic transmission in 1968.
Sales of the N600 were slow as the car was considered too small and too noisy. As these were also the days before the oil crisis the low fuel consumption was not a very important selling point.
In 1972 Honda could not sell the N600 anymore as the exemption from emission standards for sub-800cc cars was abolished. New rules for bumpers would have also increased weight and costs.