Apparently there are a lot more Civic-minded new car shoppers than Honda had anticipated. After reporting a 13 percent drop in U.S. sales of the cars last month, Honda Motor Co. is set to increase North American Civic production by as many as 60,000 units annually. Honda will be rearranging assembly-plant operations to make up the difference. A second Alliston, Ontario plant will be used for building Civics starting in April, Honda said Monday. The annual production volume will increase by 16 percent. Pilot SUV production at that plant will begin to be switched over from the Canadian factory to a Lincoln, Alabama plant in February.

"This underscores Honda's flexibility, that they can quickly shift production like this to meet demand," said Michael Robinet, an analyst at consulting firm CSM Worldwide Inc. in Farmington Hills. "They're more likely to see bottlenecks at parts suppliers than in-house capacity bottlenecks from this kind of move."

North American Civic production could hit 440,000 a year. The Civic is currently built in East Liberty, Ohio, as well as another Alliston plant. With the increase, Civics may outnumber Accords in North America, which have been the company's biggest seller in the U.S. for two decades. Honda produced 382,332 Accords in 2005. So far this year, the two are running neck-and-neck: 285,188 Accords versus 284,933 Civics. No word on how much these changes will cost, but Honda has also announced that it would build a $550 million plant in Greensburg, Ind., to make as many as 200,000 small cars a year when it opens in 2008.

[Source: The Detroit News]