Honda’s local operations earn environmental recognition

For the Sidney Daily News

A new product was brought to the Marysville Auto Plant as the first new 2016 Acura ILX sports sedan rolled off the assembly line.

A new product was brought to the Marysville Auto Plant as the first new 2016 Acura ILX sports sedan rolled off the assembly line.

Courtesy photo

A Honda associate works on a turbo engine.

Courtesy photo

MARYSVILLE – During 2015, local Honda operations made a number of environmental advancements, earning recognition at a state level. The past year brought new products showcasing the level of quality and customer focus at Honda’s Ohio plants.

Starting the year off with a bang, Acura revealed the production version of the next-generation Acura NSX to the world’s auto media at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in January.

The NSX will be manufactured exclusively at the Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio, where approximately 100 highly-skilled associates will conduct full body construction, paint, and final assembly. The PMC and its processes have been developed to perfectly blend associate craftsmanship and technology in a new approach to manufacturing.

The new year brought a new product to the Marysville Auto Plant as the first new 2016 Acura ILX sports sedan rolled off the assembly line. The redesigned and reengineered 2016 ILX delivers more performance, more advanced technology and more luxury refinement than ever before.

​On the same day, the Acura brand celebrated sales in the U.S. of the 2 millionth North American-made Acura vehicle, 20 years after Acura production began in the U.S.

“The past year marked the 20th anniversary of the start of Acura production in Ohio, so the introduction of the ILX was another exciting stage in our history with the Acura brand,” said plant manager Rob May. “Our associates apply our tremendous experience in producing high quality Acura products and leverage the production of TLX and ILX in one plant to meet the high expectations of our Acura customers.”

In February Honda announced plans to add production of the Acura MDX luxury SUV at its East Liberty, Ohio plant beginning in 2017. This move will help meet growing demand for both Honda and Acura light trucks produced in North America, including the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot launching last summer.

Production of the MDX will continue at the company’s Lincoln, Alabama, plant, which currently makes both the MDX and its V-6 engine. Honda is investing $85 million in the East Liberty Plant for the addition of new welding equipment, the extension of vehicle conveyors and other changes required to support production of the MDX.

Early in the year, Honda announced an initiative aimed at building a workforce of the future. ​The innovative $1 million Ohio-based workforce development initiative to create interest in manufacturing careers and provide educational and training opportunities to prepare the next generation workforce for high-tech positions in the manufacturing industry.

The new program, called EPIC, is designed to proactively address the skills gap in U.S. manufacturing and includes programs for middle school to community college students as well as initiatives for current manufacturing associates at Honda.

East Liberty Auto Plant celebrated a milestone this past spring, with the production of the plant’s 5 millionth vehicle. The manufacturing milestone came as the plant began production of the newly refreshed and hot-selling 2016 Acura RDX luxury sport-utility, which went on-sale at Acura dealerships nationwide the same day.

The summer brought environmental accomplishments and recognition to Honda.

​On Aug. 13, Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler presented Honda’s Marysville, East Liberty and Anna plants with the Agency’s highest award for environmental stewardship — the Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Gold-Level Award.

Just days later, Honda opened a compressed natural gas fueling station on its Marysville Campus as part of the company’s continuing effort to minimize the environmental impact of its operations. The CNG station is the first public CNG station located on a Honda property in North America.

“Honda considers the environmental impact of every aspect of our operations and this new CNG station will help reduce the impact of the delivery to our plants in Ohio of more than eight million parts each day,” said Tom Shoupe, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Honda of America Mfg., Inc. “For those carriers utilizing CNG trucks, and by encouraging more to do so, this new station will make a significant impact on emissions, and nicely complements the many environment efforts we make with our own manufacturing operations.”

In September, Honda of America Mfg., Inc. announced a $210 million investment in a new, state-of-the-art paint line at its Marysville Auto Plant to further its commitment to reducing its environmental footprint while improving on the already high quality of its products.

The new MAP Line 1 paint facility will utilize numerous new technologies to significantly reduce energy use, water use and chemical emissions from the vehicle painting process while at the same time, improving the quality of Honda and Acura vehicles produced at MAP using domestic and globally sourced parts. When complete, the new paint shop will be the most energy-efficient paint line in Honda’s U.S automobile production network. Auto body painting can account for upward of 60 percent of an automobile plant’s total energy use.

​Honda marked a major milestone on September 15 as the company’s eight auto plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico reached the 30 million mark in total automobile production. Honda started auto production in North America in Marysville, Ohio, on Nov. 1, 1982. Last year, more than 97 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America.

Honda was the first Japanese automaker to begin production of automobiles in the U.S. and North America. Since production started in Marysville, Honda has established automobile manufacturing operations in East Liberty, Ohio; Lincoln, Ala.; Greensburg, Ind.; Alliston, Ontario; Canada; El Salto, Jalisco, Mexico and Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico. A fifth U.S. auto plant, the Performance Manufacturing Center, in Marysville will begin production next year of the next-generation Acura NSX supercar.

November brought awards to Honda’s Ohio plants. For a record 30th time in the 32-year history of the award, Car and Driver magazine has named the Honda Accord to its prestigious annual list of the 10Best Cars in America. Now in its ninth generation, the Accord went on sale in the U.S. in 1976 and has been produced in America at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio auto plant since 1982.

​Also in November, the next-generation Acura NSX supercar, received a 2015 “Best of What’s New” award from Popular Science magazine for its advanced, new approach to electrified supercar technology.

“The Acura NSX challenges conventional notions of supercar performance, and it’s great to see our advanced Acura performance technologies receive this kind of recognition,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and general manager of Acura. “With its three-motor Sport Hybrid powertrain, the NSX is propelling Acura performance in an amazing new direction and we can’t wait to share the results with our customers.”

Since 1982, Honda plants in Ohio have produced more than 17 million automobiles, over 20 million engines, and over 16 million automatic transmissions.

A new product was brought to the Marysville Auto Plant as the first new 2016 Acura ILX sports sedan rolled off the assembly line. new product was brought to the Marysville Auto Plant as the first new 2016 Acura ILX sports sedan rolled off the assembly line. Courtesy photo

A Honda associate works on a turbo engine. Honda associate works on a turbo engine. Courtesy photo

For the Sidney Daily News