Honda commences production Feb. 22 at its Celaya, Mexico, plant, with the all-new ’15 Honda Fit.

Celaya initially will build the next-generation subcompact car, but later this year adds an all-new CUV based on the Fit platform.

“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,” Takanobu Ito, president and CEO of Honda, says in a statement.

Production of the Fit in Celaya marks the first time Honda has built the car in North America, and leaves the U.S. unit of the automaker with just a handful of models imported from Japan.

Last year, more than 90% of Hondas and near-luxury Acuras sold in the U.S. were North American-built, and the No.2 Japanese automaker has stated it eventually wants to reach a 100% or higher North American assembly rate, using the region as an export base.

With the start of production in Celaya, Honda will have an annual North American capacity of 1.92 million vehicles, enough to give it a 95% localization rate.

When it reaches full capacity later this year, the $800 million Celaya plant will employ 3,200 workers and be able to assemble 200,000 vehicles and engines annually.

Some of the technologies present in Celaya include a high-speed servo stamping press as well as a high-speed die change process, increasing stamping efficiency by roughly 40%; a more efficient general-welder system, which uses fewer welding robots but increases the number of weld points; and a 3-coat/2-bake water-based paint process, cutting energy consumption during painting about 40% but providing a better finish.

In second-half 2015, output of continuously variable transmissions will commence in Celaya, with 1,500 workers projected to be employed at the plant.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com