Honda Has Big Plan for U.S. Expansion – Car Pro News

Honda’s decision to further its expand its Civic plant in Greenburg, Ind., adding 500 workers and expanding capacity by 50,000 vehicles a year, is only the start.
The company laid out big plans for North America this week. It has spent $1.6 billion at its North American factories in the past 18 months as it prepares to mark its 30th anniversary of making cars in the U.S. That officially happens on Nov. 1, the day in 1982 when the first Accord rolled of the line in Marysville, Ohio.
Greensburg will be the only place in the world where Honda will assemble the Civic hybrid as it phases out production of the model in Japan.
The Indiana plant, which will build 250,000 vehicles annually, already makes the gasoline and compressed natural gas versions of the Civic. Workers there started making the all-new Acura ILX hybrid in April. A second shift of 1,000 workers was added last fall.
Honda was the first Japanese automaker to assemble vehicles in the U.S. three decades ago. Today, it has nine lines in seven assembly plants with the capacity to make 1.63 million vehicles a year in North America, most of which are powered by engines and automatic transmissions made here.
By 2014, when a new plant in Celaya, Mexico, starts making the Honda Fit, North American capacity will hit 1.92 million vehicles annually, Schostek said. The continent is already Honda’s largest manufacturing base in the world.
In Ohio, Honda is investing more than $500 million and adding 100 jobs to expand capacity.
In Lincoln, Ala., Honda is investing $275 million and adding 140 jobs, boosting capacity by 40,000 vehicles to 340,000 a year. That will include the Acura MDX beginning early next year. The SUV is currently made in Alliston, Ontario.
The new Mexico plant is an $800-million investment that will create 3,200 new jobs with the capacity to make 200,000 cars starting in 2014.
This network produces the full range of Honda’s products, Schostek said. Canada is becoming a hub for small cars and crossovers. A new dedicated facility in Ohio will make the new NSX sports car sometime in the next three years.
By shifting production to the U.S., Japanese manufacturers will be able to reduce costs of labor and transporting parts and vehicles across the Pacific, said Alec Gutierrez, market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
In 2011, 85% of Honda and Acura models sold in the U.S. were built in North America and that figure will grow to 90% in the next few years.
Honda also wants to export more vehicles and parts from North America to other regions.
Last year, Honda exported 53,000 vehicles from North America. That figure will grow to 100,000 this year and eventually 200,000 annually, Honda officials predict.

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