Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. is an international corporation based in Japan. It has headquarters in both Chūō-ku, Kobe and Minato, Tokyo. The company is named after its founder Shozo Kawasaki and has no connection with the city of Kawasaki, Kanagawa.
KHI's consumer products and machinery division produces Motorcycles, ATVs, Utility vehicles, Jet Ski personal watercrafts, General-purpose gasoline engines.
Kawasaki's Aircraft Company began the development of a motorcycle engine in 1949. The development was completed in 1952 and mass production started in 1953. The engine was an air-cooled, 148 cc, OHV, 4-stroke single cylinder with a maximum power of 4 PS (3.9 hp/2.9 kW) at 4,000 rpm.
In 1954 the first complete Kawasaki Motorcycle was produced under the name of Meihatsu, a subsidiary of Kawasaki Aircraft.
In 1960 Kawasaki completed construction of a factory dedicated exclusively to motorcycle production and bought Meguro Motorcycles.
American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp (1966) and Eastern Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp.,(1968) merged to form Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) in Southern California.
In 1969, the incredible Mach III 500cc two-stroke triple launched Kawasaki's performance image around the world. By the time of the legendary four cylinder 900cc Z1 in 1973, Kawasaki was a major power in the motorcycle industry, and KMC was building its own unified distribution network to offer dealers and customers better service.
Diversification came early when Kawasaki pioneered the personal watercraft business in 1973. Today our JET SKI® watercraft brand is a leader in an exploding market. The 1980's saw further expansion into ATVs and utility vehicles.
Today, KMC's annual revenue tops 1.6 billion dollars. There are approximately 480 employees and more than 1,500 dealers. Our bestselling Ninja® sportbikes, classic Vulcan™ cruisers, rugged ATV and Mule™ utility vehicles and exclusive JET SKI® watercraft form the foundation of our Good Times Company image.
Besides the headquarters building in Irvine, California, KMC has regional sales offices and/or distribution centers in Piscataway, New Jersey; Atlanta, Georgia; Fort Worth, Texas, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., U.S.A. of Lincoln, Nebraska operates a small engine manufacturing plant in Maryville, Missouri.
In 1973, Kawasaki introduced a limited production of stand-up models as designed by the recognized inventor of jet skis, Clayton Jacobsen II. In 1976, Kawasaki then began mass production of the JS400-A. JS400s came with 400 cc two-stroke engines and hulls based upon the previous limited release models. It became the harbinger of the success Jet-Skis would see in the market up through the 1990s. In 1986 Kawasaki broadened the world of Jet Skis by introducing a two person model with lean-in "sport" style handling and a 650 cc engine, dubbed the X-2. Then in 1989, they introduced their first two passenger "sit-down" model, the Tandem Sport (TS) with a step-through seating area. In 2003, Kawasaki celebrated the Jet Ski brand by releasing a special 30th anniversary edition of its current stand-up model, the SX-R, which has seen a revival of interest in stand-up jetskiing. The X-2 has also been updated, based on the SX-R platform and re-released in Japan. Kawasaki continues to produce three models of sit-downs, including many four-stroke models. The four stroke engines have come on since the late 1990s; with the help of superchargers and the like the engines can output up to 250 horsepower (190 kW) as seen in the Kawasaki ultra 250x.
Jet Ski is the brand name of personal watercraft manufactured by Kawasaki. The name, however, has become a genericized trademark for any type of personal watercraft.
Kawasaki's first title was with Dave Simmonds in 1969 when they won the 125 cc World Championship.
Kawasaki dominated the 250 cc and 350 cc grand prix classes from 1978 to 1982 winning 4 titles in each category.
Kawasaki has also won several superbike racing championships. They won the rider's Superbike World Championship in 1993 with Scott Russell and several AMA Superbike Championships with riders such as Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey. During the 1990s they also dominated the Endurance World Championship.
With the introduction of the four stroke engines into MotoGP in 2002, Kawasaki decided to take part in the new MotoGP World Championship. Kawasaki entered the championship in 2003 with 250 cc Grand Prix racer Harald Eckl's Team Eckl.
In 2007 Kawasaki split from Harald Eckl because of Eckl's involvement with a competitor's MotoGP activities, which forced Kawasaki to terminate the relationship immediately. Kawasaki formed Kawasaki Motors Racing, a European subsidiary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries responsible for managing the racing activities of the MotoGP team and any other motorcycle racing activities Kawasaki may enter in the future. For the first time since Kawasaki returned to the premier class of motorcycle racing, the team became a complete 'in house' factory team.
Kawasaki's traditional racing colour is green
On January 9th 2009, Kawasaki announced it had decided to ". suspend its MotoGP racing activities from 2009 season onward and reallocate management resources more efficiently". The company stated that it will continue racing activities using mass-produced motorcycles as well as supporting general race oriented costumers