Honda’s oldest U.S. assembly plant will take on production of the maker’s newest gas-electric model when the Accord Hybrid goes into production in Marysville, Ohio later this year.
The move comes as part of a major shift in strategy by Honda, which like its Japanese rivals has traditionally retained production of its most technologically advanced models for its home island plants. The Accord Hybrid Sedan will become the third of Honda’s latest gas-electric vehicles to go into production in North America, following the Civic Hybrid and Acura ILX Hybrid models.
Honda will spend $23 million to upgrade the Marysville plant and add an estimated 50 new “associates” to handle the new model. The factory will add a new 95,000 square-foot facility specifically for the Accord Hybrid.
“With more than 30 years of continuously building eight generations of the Honda Accord close to our customers, our team now is using its experience and flexibility to add this sophisticated Accord Hybrid model,” said Jeff Tomko, plant manager of the Marysville Auto Plant. “At the same time, we are continuing with our commitment to manufacture new models in Ohio, along with the resulting growth in jobs.”
The autumn 2013 launch of the Accord Hybrid is also significant in that it will mark the production debut of an all-new two-motor gas-electric powertrain system, one of three new hybrid drivelines Honda is introducing to replace the original Integrated Motor Assist system first used more than a decade ago.
Part of a broad new high-mileage/low-emissions strategy Honda has dubbed Earth Dreams Technology, the new Accord system will pair a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle gasoline engine with both a 124 kilowatt electric motor and a smaller 105 kw motor.
Honda also has a single-motor system it will use in lower-priced products in the future. A three-motor hybrid will be used in more advanced vehicles, such as the next-generation Acura MDX crossover – which will be unveiled at next week’s Detroit Auto Show – and the soon-to-return Acura NSX sports car.
Honda isn’t the only Japanese maker shifting battery drive technology to the U.S. Nissan this week launched U.S. production of its Leaf battery electric vehicle at its sprawling assembly complex in Smyrna, Tennessee.
(For more on the U.S. version of the Nissan Leaf, Click Here.)
And Toyota is now producing some of its battery cars here, notably the RAV4 EV which uses a driveline derived from the Japanese maker’s American affiliate, Tesla Motors. But Toyota has yet to formalize plans to add production of its original hybrid model, the Prius, in the U.S. That move is expected within the next several years.
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