Tokyo - (JCN Newswire) - Honda continued the expansion of its manufacturing operations in North America today, by celebrating the production start of the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit at a new, technologically-advanced automobile plant of Honda de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (HDM). The new plant in North America will increase Honda's ability to meet customer demand for fuel-efficient subcompact models from within the region. Honda celebrated with an event attended by Enrique Pena Nieto, president of Mexico, and Takanobu Ito, president & CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
The start-up of the Celaya Plant increases Honda's annual automobile production capacity in North America to approximately 1.92 million units. In 2013, more than 90 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America; this is expected to exceed 95 percent when the Celaya plant reaches full capacity.
Located in Celaya, Guanajuato, the US$800 million plant began production less than two years after construction started in early 2012, and will employ 3,200 associates with an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles and engines when it reaches full production later this year. In addition to the 2015 Honda Fit, the plant will begin production late this year of an all-new compact SUV.
"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," said Ito. "In Celaya, we can see these core values in action, with a commitment to the highest quality and efficiency and a focus on creating joy for our customers."
The Celaya plant, designed exclusively for the production of subcompact vehicles, features a number of Honda's most advanced manufacturing technologies in the world, including several that were first introduced last year at Honda's new Yorii Plant in Japan, to increase quality and efficiency and reduce the plant's environmental footprint. Key technologies include:
- A high-speed servo stamping press and adoption of a high-speed die change process that increases the efficiency of the stamping process by approximately 40 percent.
- An all-new, highly efficient general welder system, which joins the vehicle body panels together, achieves a major reduction in the number of welding robots, while increasing the number of weld points for higher quality and efficiency.
- A new 3-coat/2-bake, water-based painting process (replacing the traditional 4-coat/3-bake process) to reduce energy consumption during the painting process by approximately 40 percent, while enhancing paint finish quality.
- A highly efficient production line intended to reduce the time and space for assembly processes, that includes a reduction in heavy-lifting processes for improved associate ergonomics, an increase of in-plant sub-assembly processes and new strategies that ensure both more efficient and more precise vehicle assembly.
- LED lighting was installed throughout the plant and vehicle yard to reduce energy usage.
Together with the new USD470 million transmission plant now under construction at the same site in Celaya, the new auto plant will play a significant role in the region as Honda's North American operations take on increasing responsibilities within global Honda for product development, production and sales activities. The new transmission plant in Celaya is expected to begin production of continuously variable transmissions (CVT) in the second half of 2015, with employment of approximately 1,500 associates
The new plants will boost Honda's capital investment in its North American operations to more than US$21 billion. Honda employs more than 33,000 associates in North America. Production operations related to automobiles also include four auto plants, two auto engine production facilities and two transmission plants in the United States, and two auto plants and an auto engine plant in Canada.
The Celaya Auto Plant is Honda de Mexico's second auto plant. The first plant, located near Guadalajara, was established in El Salto, Jalisco in 1995. The valuable experience of HDM associates from the El Salto plant is now being utilized to support the successful startup of Celaya operations. The El Salto operations also have helped increase the localization of supplied parts from Mexico that now is being more fully integrated into Honda's North American and global supply network.
Honda unveiled the 2015 Fit for the U.S. market at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month. Set to go on sale in the U.S. this spring, the all-new Fit is completely redesigned from the ground up to deliver an unparalleled combination of style, interior space, fun-to-drive performance and fuel efficiency, together with leading-edge safety and vehicle connectivity.