Honda Fit in Celaya, Mexico

After two years of construction, Honda's new factory in Celaya, Mexico, has officially begun production of the all-new 2015 Fit in North America. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Honda President and CEO Takanobu Ito both attended the opening and watched the first Fit roll off the line at the $800-million plant. Later this year, Honda will add production of its new Vezel small crossover to the new facility, though the latter is expected to be marketed in North America under a new name.

The Celaya factory will specialize in building subcompact cars by employing cutting-edge tech to use less material and less energy during production. Honda is still constructing a $470-million transmission plant on the campus to build continuously variable transmissions in the second half of 2015. When it's finished, it is expected to have an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles and employ 3,200 people.

With the facility's completion, Honda now has a 1.92-million unit annual production capacity in North America, and it claims that when Celaya reaches full production, 95-percent of vehicles sold in the US will be built in North America. The new Fit has already proven quite popular in Japan, and now we will have to wait and see if North American buyers embrace it as well. The first new Fit customer cars will hit the roads later this spring, and as Honda spokesman Steve Kinkade tells Autoblog, all Fit models sold in North American will be built at the plant. Scroll down to read the full press release about the Fit and its new Mexican home.
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Honda Increases North American Manufacturing Footprint with Production Start of Fuel-Efficient, Subcompact Vehicles at New Auto Plant in Mexico
All-new 2015 Honda Fit is first product built at Honda de Mexico auto plant in Celaya

CELAYA, Mexico
Honda continued the expansion of its manufacturing operations in North America today, by celebrating the production start of the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit at a new, technologically-advanced automobile plant of Honda de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (HDM). The new plant in North America will increase Honda's ability to meet customer demand for fuel-efficient subcompact models from within the region. Honda celebrated with an event attended by Enrique Pena Nieto, president of Mexico, and Takanobu Ito, president & CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

The start-up of the Celaya Plant increases Honda's annual automobile production capacity in North America to approximately 1.92 million units. In 2013, more than 90 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America; this is expected to exceed 95 percent when the Celaya plant reaches full capacity.

Located in Celaya, Guanajuato, the US$800 million plant began production less than two years after construction started in early 2012, and will employ 3,200 associates with an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles and engines when it reaches full production later this year. In addition to the 2015 Honda Fit, the plant will begin production late this year of an all-new compact SUV.

"Our new plant in Mexico is based on the Honda Company Principle of maintaining a global viewpoint to supply products of the highest quality, yet at a reasonable price, for worldwide customer satisfaction," said Ito. "In Celaya, we can see these core values in action, with a commitment to the highest quality and efficiency and a focus on creating joy for our customers."

The Celaya plant, designed exclusively for the production of subcompact vehicles, features a number of Honda's most advanced manufacturing technologies in the world, including several that were first introduced last year at Honda's new Yorii Plant in Japan, to increase quality and efficiency and reduce the plant's environmental footprint. Key technologies include:

A high-speed servo stamping press and adoption of a high-speed die change process that increases the efficiency of the stamping process by approximately 40%.

An all-new, highly efficient general welder system, which joins the vehicle body panels together, achieves a major reduction in the number of welding robots, while increasing the number of weld points for higher quality and efficiency.

A new 3-coat/2-bake, water-based painting process (replacing the traditional 4-coat/3-bake process) to reduce energy consumption during the painting process by approximately 40%, while enhancing paint finish quality.

A highly efficient production line intended to reduce the time and space for assembly processes, that includes a reduction in heavy-lifting processes for improved associate ergonomics, an increase of in-plant sub-assembly processes and new strategies that ensure both more efficient and more precise vehicle assembly.

LED lighting was installed throughout the plant and vehicle yard to reduce energy usage.
Together with the new $470 million transmission plant now under construction at the same site in Celaya, the new auto plant will play a significant role in the region as Honda's North American operations take on increasing responsibilities within global Honda for product development, production and sales activities. The new transmission plant in Celaya is expected to begin production of continuously variable transmissions (CVT) in the second half of 2015, with employment of approximately 1,500 associates.

The new plants will boost Honda's capital investment in its North American operations to more than US$21 billion. Honda employs more than 33,000 associates in North America. Production operations related to automobiles also include four auto plants, two auto engine production facilities and two transmission plants in the United States, and two auto plants and an auto engine plant in Canada.

The Celaya Auto Plant is Honda de Mexico's second auto plant. The first plant, located near Guadalajara, was established in El Salto, Jalisco in 1995. The valuable experience of HDM associates from the El Salto plant is now being utilized to support the successful startup of Celaya operations. The El Salto operations also have helped increase the localization of supplied parts from Mexico that now is being more fully integrated into Honda's North American and global supply network.

Honda unveiled the 2015 Fit for the U.S. market at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month. Set to go on sale in the U.S. this spring, the all-new Fit is completely redesigned from the ground up to deliver an unparalleled combination of style, interior space, fun-to-drive performance and fuel efficiency, together with leading-edge safety and vehicle connectivity.

About Honda
Honda began automobile production in the U.S. in 1982. It now operates 15 major manufacturing facilities in North America, producing a wide range of Honda and Acura automobiles, automobile engines and transmissions, Honda all-terrain vehicles, and power equipment products such as lawn mowers, mini-tillers and general purpose engines, using domestic and globally sourced parts.

This includes eight Honda auto plants in the North American region that have the capacity to produce 1.92 million automobiles each year, using domestic and globally sourced parts.

About Honda de Mexico
HDM was established in September 1985, and began sales of motorcycle products in 1987. In March 1988, HDM started production of motorcycle products and automobile service parts in El Salto, Jalisco. An adjacent auto production plant opened in 1995 with production of the Honda Accord, switching to production of the Honda CR-V in 2007. HDM's current annual auto production capacity is 63,000 units.