LINCOLN, Ala. –Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. President and CEO Takeo Fukui helped Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC (HMA) dedicate the production startup of Honda’s new assembly line in Lincoln and the production of the first Alabama-built Honda Pilot sport utility vehicle.
Customer demand for Honda’s light truck products remains strong as Honda’s lineup of light truck vehicles continues to grow. Thus, Honda began mass production of the Pilot on April 27, just 17 months after HMA began construction of the 1.3 million-square-foot expansion of the Alabama facility, which is also home to Honda’s popular Odyssey minivan.
Fukui noted that HMA is building on a foundation that began in 1979 with Honda’s first U.S. production facility. “Twenty-five years ago, we planted a seed in Ohio. Today, several beautiful trees grow in Alabama,” said Fukui, Honda’s global CEO. “The associates at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama have quickly become a key part of our ability to meet the needs of our customers in North America.”
The start-up of HMA’s second assembly line boosts Honda’s capital investment in Alabama to more than $1 billion and to more than $8 billion in North America. It also increases HMA’s combined annual production capacity to 300,000 vehicles.
“Today, we continue to build on the success we have achieved in Alabama with the start of mass production on our second assembly line by a growing team of enthusiastic and capable associates,” said Masaaki Kato, president and CEO of HMA.
“I am extremely proud of our associates in achieving the start of Pilot mass production and maintaining a focus on our customers to meet demand for Honda products.”
Associates at HMA have been conducting production trials for several months to refine building processes, verify equipment and undergo training to Honda’s exacting standards for quality and efficiency. The mass production line-off of the first customer-ready Pilot SUV culminates several weeks of department-by-department production start-ups in stamping, welding, painting, plastic injection molding, aluminum die-cast and machining, body and engine assembly and other areas.
HMA started building Odyssey minivans and V-6 engines in Alabama, Nov. 14, 2001. To date, HMA has built more than 327,000 Odysseys and engines at the 1.7 million-square-foot Line 1 facility, which is running at its full capacity of 150,000 units per year. Currently, HMA employs more than 3,300 associates and will employ approximately 4,300 associates when full production on the second line is reached in 2005.
Honda’s North American employment now totals more than 30,000 associates at the company’s twelve North American manufacturing plants, three major R&D centers and dozens of other sales, parts and related facilities. HMA’s Line 2 boosts Honda’s total North American auto production capacity from 1.25 million units to 1.4 million units.
Honda is the world’s preeminent engine-maker, building more than 17 million engines globally in 2003 for its diverse line-up of automobiles, motorcycles and power products. Honda began operations in North America in 1959 with the establishment of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Honda’s first overseas subsidiary.
Using domestic and globally sourced parts, Honda began assembling motorcycles in America in 1979 and this year celebrates 25 years of U.S. production. Honda began automobile manufacturing in the U.S. in 1982 with the Accord and was the first Japanese automaker to build products for the North American market in the United States.