This week, Honda marked the thirtieth anniversary of the start of motorcycle production in the United States with a tree planting ceremony and a new production announcement. Legions of Facebook "fans" of the new Honda Accord Crosstour will surely be thrilled to learn that the company's new lifted hatchback thingy will be built at the East Liberty, OH assembly plant. East Liberty already builds Accord sedans and coupes, making it a natural to build the new bodystyle. As with other American-built Hondas, most of the major components are also locally sourced. Honda's nearby Anna, OH engine plant will ship over the V6 engines while the Russells Point facility will build the transmissions.
The Marysville plant that got motorcycle production started three decades ago is now being transformed into a consolidation center to feed parts and systems to the other nearby assembly plants. Honda has decided that it makes more sense for them to focus on building cars in America than bikes. Whether it makes sense to build this particular car anywhere, however, will be determined not on Facebook, but on dealer forecourts.
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Honda Commemorates 30 Years of Manufacturing in America
09/10/2009 - MARYSVILLE, Ohio -
Honda of America Mfg. marked 30 years of manufacturing in America today with a symbolic tree planting ceremony that represents the company's deep roots in America and its longstanding relationships with the communities that have hosted the company's operations.
"On behalf of the thousands of Honda associates in Ohio, past and present, I want to thank our local communities and the people of Ohio for their support and friendship during the past 30 years," said Honda of America President and CEO Hidenobu Iwata. "The significant growth we have experienced in Ohio would not have been possible without the trust and support of our community partners."
During the tree-planting event, Iwata announced that Honda's auto plant in East Liberty, Ohio, will be the production site* for the new Honda Accord Crosstour crossover utility vehicle (CUV). The East Liberty Auto Plant recently earned the J.D. Power and Associates' 2009 Gold Plant Award for having the highest quality of any auto plant in North America. Going on sale this fall, the Accord Crosstour will be positioned at the top of the Accord lineup.
"We have continued to advance our products, and the flexible and efficient manufacturing capabilities that build them, to create new value for Honda and Acura customers," said Iwata, who leads Honda's manufacturing operations in North America. "The addition of the Accord Crosstour not only signifies our commitment to the state, but also our trust in the Ohio associates to build this top-of-the-line new Honda vehicle."
*Honda and Acura products are produced using domestic and globally sourced parts
In addition to the East Liberty Auto Plant, other major Honda operations in Ohio will play significant roles in the Accord Crosstour project. Honda's auto engine plant near Anna, Ohio, will produce its engine and Honda's transmission plant near Russells Point, Ohio, will be the production site for its automatic transmission.
"Honda's automotive operations in Ohio continue to grow in importance as they provide support to our manufacturing plants in North America and around the world," said Tom Shoupe, Honda of America senior vice president. "In addition to starting Honda motorcycle and auto production in America, Ohio is where we first began North American engine and transmission manufacturing, and where we have established a major R&D center to develop many of the products we make in North America."
Honda ended motorcycle production in Marysville, Ohio, last June and is focusing its local operations on automobile and powertrain production. Construction is under way to transform the former motorcycle plant into a consolidation center to deliver automotive parts and components directly to assembly lines at the Marysville Auto Plant. Locating this consolidation activity adjacent to the plant advances quality and efficiency by significantly reducing parts handling and shipping. The new center also has a pronounced environmental benefit by reducing truck traffic and resulting CO2 emissions.
This consolidation center project is one of many other activities involving Honda production and support associates to advance the company's automobile manufacturing in Ohio and North America. Based on Honda's philosophy of creating new value for its customers, Honda associates are focused on further enhancing quality, cost and on-time delivery during the economic downturn.
"During these challenging times, the key to a company's survival is to respond quickly to rapid changes," Iwata said. "I am proud of the efforts by Honda associates to strengthen our operations. This puts us in a good position as the market returns to provide our customers with top quality and value in the fuel-efficient products that customers want to buy."
Honda became the first Japanese automaker to manufacture products in America when it opened its first U.S. plant in Marysville, Ohio. On Sept. 10, 1979, 64 Honda associates began producing the CR250 Elsinore off-road motorcycle in Marysville. The startup was so successful that Honda quickly announced plans to build an adjacent auto plant. The first Japanese auto plant in America, the Marysville Auto Plant started producing four-door Honda Accords in November 1982.
Over the past 30 years, Honda plants in Ohio have produced more than 13 million automobiles, 17 million engines, 1 million motorcycles, 2 million all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and nearly 13 million automatic transmissions.
Today, the Marysville Auto Plant produces the Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe models, and the Acura TL Sedan and Acura RDX crossover vehicle. The East Liberty Auto Plant opened 20 years ago in December 1989. In addition to the upcoming Accord Crosstour, the plant is the major production site in North America for the Honda CR-V and exclusively produces the Honda Element.
Honda's success at manufacturing quality products in Ohio set Honda's course to add more production in North America to meet increasing customer demand for Honda products. Utilizing its production systems and the skills of its associates to adjust quickly to changing market conditions, Honda's North American plants manufacture more than 80% of the passenger cars and light trucks that the company sells in America.
Earlier this year, Honda marked the 50th anniversary of doing business in America, keyed to the June 11, 1959 establishment of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Today, Honda operates nine major manufacturing facilities in America, working with 545 U.S. parts and material suppliers to produce more than 3 million products each year, including Honda and Acura automobiles, Honda all-terrain vehicles, general purpose engines and power equipment products. The company has two additional plants under construction in North Carolina, for the production of the HondaJet advanced light jet and GE Honda turbofan jet engines.