DETROIT –’s success in North America, its largest region globally by volume, has led to employees here earning more responsibility, including the development and manufacture of the next-generation Acura NSX supercar, due within three years.
A recent directive fromCEO Takanobu Ito grants a larger leadership role to Honda North America that enables the unit to set benchmark processes for global model launches.
Honda’s Rick Schostek, senior vice president-Honda of America Mfg., Inc., makes the announcement at an Automotive Press Assn. luncheon here Wednesday.
“I think there are some things we’ve taken for granted in terms of the support we’ve received from our Japan colleagues in years past,” Schostek says. “What we’re trying to do now is understand more deeply everything about that new-model process, how to coordinate with other regions and how to be a leader in that regard.”
Honda expects its North American vehicle exports to grow to 100,000 units this year, reaching a cumulative 1 million vehicles by this fall.
The auto maker also plans to increase its exports of “major” parts from the U.S. to outside North America by 70% compared with year-ago. Most are purchased from Tier 1 suppliers but also include parts Honda will build in-house.
As part of its growth spurt, Schostek says the Japanese auto maker will increase annual capacity at its Greensburg, IN, plant in early 2013, as it makes room for 50,000 more Civics a year, including hybrid models.
Honda is investing $40 million and will hire 300 new workers for the 50,000 extra units, which will push the 4-year-old Indiana plant’s total volume from 200,000 units to 250,000 annually.
Besides the Civic, the Greensburg facility assembles the new Civic-based Acura ILX and ILX Hybrid.
The Indiana announcement follows other recent decisions by Honda to increase capacity in North America, including 40,000 units at its Lincoln, AL, light-truck factory beginning this fall and a new 200,000-unit plant in Mexico set to open in 2014 to build the Fit subcompact.
When all planned increases are completed, Honda’s total North American capacity should top out at 1.92 million units, spokesman Ron Lietzke says. The auto maker’s seven North American vehicle-assembly plants have a current straight-time capacity of 1.63 million units.
Schostek also says the auto maker will keep in-house its new continuously variable transmission, debuting this fall in the ninth-generation ’13 Accord, by building a new line at its Russells Point, OH, plant to assemble the CVT. Honda’s nearby Anna, OH, engine facility is producing the CVT’s pulleys.
Many auto makers, including rival, source CVTs from suppliers.
Honda will celebrate its 30th anniversary of automobile manufacturing in the U.S. on Nov. 1. The first plant, in Marysville, OH, began with production of the Accord and continues to build the car, usually the second-best selling passenger car in the U.S. behind’s Camry.
With the coming fall launch of the ’13 Accord, Schostek says Honda is making some changes in Marysville, namely bringing in-house the midsize car’s instrument-panel assembly. The new IP has been simplified as a seamless 1-piece unit compared with the 4-piece, 16-seam unit in the outgoing model.
“It’s a challenging project that features a number of unique processes,” Schostek says, including using an ultrasonic knife to score perforations that allow the airbags to deploy. “To ensure precise scoring, we’ve added a seismic floor, 6-ft. (1.8-m) deep, in the plant to eliminate vibrations in that process.”