ANNA — Last year marked a significant anniversary milestone as Honda of America Mfg., Inc. celebrated 40 years since its first product, the Elsinore CR250R motocross model, rolled off the line in Marysville, Ohio. Production began at Honda’s Marysville Motorcycle Plant on Sept. 10, 1979, and since then, Honda has steadily grown its operations, adding plants, products and employment opportunities to the region.
Engine and transmission plants
Last year, on the power train side of the business, both the Anna Engine Plant and Honda Transmission Mfg. (HTM) continue to grow their capabilities. Honda’s Anna Engine Plant, in Shelby County, plays an integral role to many plants including the Marysville and East Liberty Auto Plants. The Anna plant launched in 1985 as a 200,000 square-foot facility with just 94 associates. Today, the facility is Honda’s largest engine plant in the world, producing 1.18 million engines per year, in addition to component parts that are shipped to Honda facilities around the world.
Also last year, HTM’s facility in Russells Point, Ohio, became the first U.S. automotive transmission facility to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification. Along with the energy benefit of getting more than 10 percent of its power from the two 1.7 megawatt turbines on its property, HTM increased its energy efficiency by implementing a robust utility scheduling and monitoring program. This program allows for detailed tracking of energy use and enhanced scheduling of lighting, Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units, compressed air valves, and cooling systems.
Training for the future
To better prepare associates for manufacturing careers, Honda opened a 40,000 square-foot training center in Bellefontaine the spring of 2019. The two-week, hands-on, innovative program supports workforce training for Honda’s Marysville Auto Plant, East Liberty Auto Plant and the Anna Engine Plant.
A $1.9 million investment, which converted an existing building into learning space, allows up to 100 new production associates the opportunity to train each week. Experienced Honda manufacturing staff provide training in three main categories: process simulation, hands-on static skills and classroom instruction.
Late in 2019, Honda focused on increasing student interest in manufacturing careers as associates throughout the company’s U.S. manufacturing facilities took time to host young visitors for National Manufacturing Day.
Hundreds of students attended events throughout the week at Honda facilities in Ohio, learning more about the many career paths available in the manufacturing field.
Students from high schools, STEM academies, technical centers and two- and four-year colleges interacted with plant leaders and production associates during events designed to showcase the variety of options available to those considering a career in the field. More than 800 Shelby County area students toured Honda’s Anna Engine Plant. Activities included using interactive training tools such as virtual welders and painters, as well as opportunities for students to try their hand with impact wrenches, circuit boards and robotics applications.
East Liberty Auto Plant
In neighboring Logan County, Honda associates marked the 30th anniversary of production at Honda of America Mfg.’s East Liberty Auto Plant (ELP) in East Liberty, Ohio. Conceived as part of a visionary business strategy and built just seven years after Honda established its first U.S. automobile plant in Marysville, Ohio, the East Liberty Plant was designed to be a highly flexible plant, capable of handling different models on the same production line. The plant has produced 5.9 million vehicles since its launch in 1989.
With an initial investment of $380 million, the plant began production with employment of 1,800 associates and an annual production capacity of 150,000 vehicles. Today, the plant represents an investment of over $2 billion, employs more than 2,800 associates, and can annually produce 240,000 vehicles.
The critical roles the plant and its associates have played during the past three decades include serving as the North American manufacturing lead for the most recent major new model launch of the Honda CR-V, the best-selling crossover in America over the past 23 years. ELP also builds the five-passenger Acura RDX luxury crossover SUV, and the seven-passenger Acura MDX, America’s all-time best-selling three-row luxury SUV. In its 30-year history, ELP also has manufactured the Honda Civic, Accord, Element, Crosstour and Acura CL.
Marysville Auto Plant
On Nov. 1, 1982, the Marysville Auto Plant (MAP) began with just one assembly line producing the Honda Accord. The Accord was the first vehicle made in America by a Japanese automaker and the Marysville plant has continuously produced Honda Accords since that first day of production in 1982.
The plant, which today produces the Honda Accord, Honda CR-V, Acura TLX and Acura ILX, started 2020 with another major milestone — production of the company’s 20 millionth automobile in Ohio. Associates cheered as a 2020 Platinum White Pearl Honda Accord Hybrid rolled off the production line at the Marysville Auto Plant. The 20 million vehicles reflect the cumulative output of Honda’s three Ohio auto plants: the Marysville Auto Plant, the East Liberty Auto Plant, and the Performance Manufacturing Center. Honda’s plants in Ohio account for nearly 75 percent of the company’s U.S. automotive production.
Performance Manufacturing Center
Located on Honda’s Marysville campus, the Performance Manufacturing Center saw a number of new products in 2019. Acura introduced handcrafted limited-edition vehicles, starting with the 2020 TLX PMC Edition. The 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition is built by the same master technicians who hand-assemble the Acura NSX supercar. An MDX PMC Edition will follow the TLX PMC Edition and will launch early this year.
Each Acura TLX PMC Edition is finished in Valencia Red Pearl, the highest quality, most vibrant paint ever offered by Acura and previously reserved for only the NSX supercar. The Acura TLX PMC Edition assembly process begins with the delivery of the body from the main TLX production facility (Marysville Auto Plant). Once the paint process is finished, the skilled Performance Manufacturing Center master technicians begin the hand assembly of the PMC Edition, starting with the installation of all drivetrain and chassis components, wiring harnesses and electronics.
Honda of America Mfg. associates celebrated the holiday season by helping others in the community. Through Honda’s Holiday Wish List program and the generosity of Honda associates, 700 west Central Ohio families received toys, clothing and gift cards just in time for the holidays. These individuals and countless others benefitted from multiple collections and drives held by Honda associates.
Associates began collecting items in early November, and gathered and distributed all the items to local charities in Logan, Union and Shelby counties.
Additionally during 2019, Honda associates at the Anna Engine Plant volunteered their time at the Bruckner Nature Center in Troy to perform much needed repairs and upgrades. Associates also supported disaster relief efforts with clean up activity following the Dayton area tornado this past spring. Lastly, the Anna team donated blood to the American Red Cross throughout the year for a total of 8,500 pints of blood during the year.
Throughout its 40th anniversary year, Honda continued to play an important role in local communities with several events and milestone recognitions. In the spring, Honda made a $15,000 contribution to Keep Ohio Beautiful, and with that donation, Honda surpassed the $100 million mark in philanthropic contributions to local Ohio communities. The Keep Ohio Beautiful grant supports a three-year project benefitting the YMCA’s Camp Willson, in Bellefontaine.
Since beginning production in Marysville in 1979, Honda of America’s charitable giving programs have supported many local initiatives. These include grants to hospitals, STEM organizations, community centers, theaters, food banks, after-school programs, nature preserves and camps.
In 2019, Honda also made a major gift to Wilson Health in Sidney by contributing $100,000 to the Wilson Health Foundation campaign. The $1.1 million breast imaging campaign used the funding to purchase two 3D mammography units at Wilson Health Hospital. Honda executives toured the Francis Women’s Center 3D Mammography units to see first-hand how the contribution would help provide services to residents in Shelby County.
Honda’s Ohio operations currently employ 15,000 associates, and more than 10,000 of these jobs are in manufacturing. Honda’s cumulative investment in Ohio operations now exceeds $13 billion. Additional information about Honda can be found on the company’s website, www.ohio.honda.com.