American Honda Motor Co. Inc. has begun hiring non-production staffers for its new Greensburg, IN, plant, slated to go online in 18 months.

The auto maker is seeking non-production personnel with backgrounds in automotive engineering, purchasing, information technology and administration for the greenfield plant. Hiring of production workers won’t begin until late this year, the company says.

Ultimately, Honda plans to employ 2,000 people, the vast majority production workers, at the $550 million Greensburg facility. Honda is advertising for the positions in newspapers and on a website,

The plant will have annual capacity for 200,000 vehicles. Honda has yet to designate a product other than to say the facility will build vehicles powered by 4-cyl. engines manufactured in Anna, OH. The Japanese auto maker plans to start production in fall 2008 for the ’09 vehicle.

When the new plant goes online, Honda’s total North American annual capacity will reach 1.6 million vehicles.