Honda today celebrated the mass production startup at its engine plant in Anna, Ohio of a high precision pulley component for the new generation of Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) that are part of Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology powertrain series. The CVTs are produced on a new assembly line at a Honda transmission plant in nearby Russells Point, Ohio.1
Honda’s sporty new CVT is featured in the popular 4-cylinder version of the 2013 Honda Accord, helping it achieve both high fuel efficiency and fun-to-drive performance at a high level. These Earth Dreams Technologies have not only won awards from the media, they have helped make Accord the most popular car in America, based on its industry-leading retail sales during the first six months of 2013.
Formerly sourced from Japan, the pulley component production line is part of a $100 million investment in the Honda of America Mfg., Inc. Anna Engine Plant that was announced last year, specifically for the addition of the high precision lathing, heat-treating, grinding and subassembly operations. The pulley components are sent to Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, where they are assembled into the CVT on a new, highly automated assembly line that was constructed as part of a $120 million investment. The new line, located in a 275,000-square-foot plant expansion, started producing CVTs for the Accord last year.
Approximately 175 new machines were installed at the engine plant for the highly technical processes, which also require advanced manufacturing skills to meet the precise tolerances required for the pulley component. Completion of this initial phase of the project will lead to daily production of approximately 1,400 pulley components. A second phase to double pulley component capacity is already underway, including a 93,000-square-foot expansion to the Anna plant. Starting next year, the new area will add capacity to produce an additional 1,400 pulley components per day.
“For almost three decades, the Anna Engine Plant has met challenge after challenge … from motorcycle engines, to automobile engines, to a great number of major components,” said Tetsuo Iwamura, chief operating officer of Honda North America Regional Operations. “The successful startup of the production of these high tech components in Ohio is a major step in our ongoing effort to play a lead role within Honda’s global operations.”
Last week, Honda announced an additional investment of approximately $180 million at the Anna Engine Plant to expand capabilities in aluminum die-casting and engine parts production related to the new Honda Earth Dreams Technology engines and transmissions, and to establish a technical training center for powertrains at Anna to provide Honda engineers, equipment service technicians and line-side associates with unique opportunities to develop skills that will refine their technical know-how in a hands-on environment. This brings total investment at the Anna plant over the last three years to more than $500 million.
“Production of these high-precision pulleys required our associates to draw on their existing skills and apply them to a new technology to create new value in Ohio.” said John Spoltman, Plant Manager of the Anna Engine Plant. “Tremendous customer demand for the new Accord also means we have to ramp up production very quickly, and I am proud of what our team has accomplished in working to meet this challenge.”
In addition to major investments at the Anna Engine Plant, Honda also has been implementing advanced technologies and introducing new products at all of its plants in North America — totaling nearly $2.7 billion in the last three years. In Ohio alone, the investments over the last three years now total more than $1 billion.
Honda established operations in America in 1959, and now employs more than 33,000 associates in its North American sales, R&D and manufacturing operations with a capital investment of more than $22 billion.
Based on Honda’s approach of “building products close to the customer” Honda started local production of motorcycles in the U.S. in September 1979. In November 1982, Honda became the first Japanese automaker to begin automobile production in the U.S. Since then, Honda has continued to expand local production, and cumulative production volume of automobiles in North America through March 2013 was more than 25 million units.
Honda now operates 14 major manufacturing facilities in North America, producing a wide range of Honda and Acura automobiles, automobile engines and transmissions, Honda all-terrain vehicles, and power equipment products such as lawn mowers, mini-tillers and general purpose engines.
Seven Honda auto plants in the North American region, including four in the U.S., have the capacity to produce 1.63 million automobiles each year. In 2012, 90 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America. This will increase to 1.92 million vehicles per year in 2014, when the sales percentage of locally produced automobiles is expected to rise to more than 95 percent.
1 Honda CVTs and components are manufactured using domestic and globally sourced parts.