Many car buyers may not know it, but Honda's largest car building complex in the U.S. is in Marysville and East Liberty, Ohio area, about 45 miles from Columbus. The Marysville plant, which opened in 1982, builds Honda Accord and Acura TL, and employes 4,200 people. The East Liberty plant builds the Honda CR-V, Accord Crosstour and Acura and RDX. Besides building cars for the North American market, Honda also builds cars at the facility for export. Honda, in total, employes 13,500 people in Ohio, building cars, parts and motorcycles.
What is remarkable for Honda is that it has been able to build up jobs and such a big presence in Ohio, a union state in the hart of the United Auto Workers base of operations without its workforce voting to join the union. Honda's wages are competitive with UAW wages, and thus far the workers, building vehicles that are top sellers in their categories every year, have seen no reason to organize.
The move goes along with the promotion of Tetsuo Iwamura who will serve as Honda's global chief operating officer of automotive operations as well as COO of Honda North America.
"These organizational changes will improve the speed of decision-making and the efficiency of our business operations," said Iwamura.
About 50 positions will shift to the new headquarters from the maker's long-standing base of operations in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance. But the California facility will continue to house Honda's sales and marketing group.
The move, say officials, will help the people who are most closely involved with Honda's manufacturing and product development to operate more efficiently. Honda also has a technical center in Ann Arbor, MI, much closer to Marysville than Los Angeles, where it develops and tests the cars built at its U.S. factories.
The parts for Honda's U.S. built vehicles are so well sourced from the U.S., as well as being built here, that Cars.com ranked the Honda Accord the third "Most American"car in America last year just behind the Ford F150 pickup built in Michigan.
Honda is undergoing a lot of changes to try and improve its position in the U.S. In 2011, it launched a replacement for its big selling Civic sedan, only to have the auto press and Consumer Reports bash it for a sluggish engine and cheap materials. The company rushed an improved design to dealers for the 2013 model year. Honda has also botched several recent models--The CRZ, Ridgeline and Insight--which have sold very poorly.
There is an idea at Honda, say officials, that the company needs to get closer to its customer base in the U.S., and produce more hits and fewer misses. Honda is the second Japanese automaker to move out of California and into the middle of the U.S. where their factories are located. Nissan left Los Angeles for Nashville a few years ago.
Honda is also considering new ad agencies to help its image after having the same California ad agency represent it for 32 years.
Honda has three major manufacturing centers in the U.S.--Marysville-East Liberty Ohio, Greensburg, Indiana, and Lincoln Alabama.