EAST LIBERTY — Honda associates on Wednesday 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 nearby Marysville, 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, with an annual production capacity of 150,000 vehicles. Today, the plant represents an investment of over $2 billion, with employment of more than 2,800 associates and an annual production capacity of 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 launch of the all-new 2017 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.
“Honda’s success at the East Liberty Plant has been achieved due to the innovative and passionate associates who have advanced technology within the plant to ensure our customers receive high-quality products,” said Nari Hirase, East Liberty Plant General Manager.
Among recent innovations is a new stamping press, which began full operation in August 2019. A benchmark for stamping quality in North America, the plant’s new 5,700-ton F-Line servo press features state-of-the-art vision and robotic transferring systems and gives the plant unparalleled ability in the forming of steel and aluminum parts. A 60,000-square-foot expansion to ELP was constructed to accommodate the new press area.
“This new stamping press showcases our flexibility at the East Liberty Plant, giving us the capacity and space to renovate other stamping capabilities for future innovation here at ELP and the Marysville Auto Plant without any downtime,” said Keith Strickland, Line 3 division manager. “The press provides a whole set of new technologies to enable Acura styling, and it gives us the ability to stamp aluminum panels, which is a first for ELP.”
With the new press and other investments over the last three decades, Honda’s capital investment at ELP since 1989 exceeds $2 billion. Combined with Honda’s other manufacturing and research facilities in Ohio, the company’s total investment in the Buckeye state exceeds $13 billion since Honda began production in Ohio in 1979.
The East Liberty Auto Plant was conceived as part of Honda’s visionary “Five-Part Strategy,” announced in Sept. 1987, which set the direction for the company’s manufacturing, R&D and purchasing operations for the past three decades. This strategic plan called for a second auto plant in Ohio (ELP) as well as an expansion of engine production at Honda’s Anna, Ohio engine plant; the creation of a new R&D center in Ohio, where many of our cars and light trucks are now developed; the expansion of production engineering in America for creation of the dies and tooling used in our plants; a plan to export U.S.-built Honda vehicles, including shipments back to Japan; and a major increase in parts sourcing efforts in North America.
40 years of Honda manufacturing in America
Honda marked its 40th anniversary of manufacturing products in America in Sept. 2019. Honda was the first Japanese automaker to produce products in America, beginning with motorcycles in 1979, followed by the start of automobile production in Marysville, Ohio, on Nov. 1, 1982.
Over the course of four decades, Honda has steadily grown its manufacturing capabilities in the region. Honda now employs more than 25,000 associates at 12 plants in America with the capacity to produce more than one million automobiles, three million engines, 400,000 power equipment products and 330,000 powersports products each year, using domestic and globally sourced parts. In 2018, nearly two-thirds of all Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were made in America.
Honda also manufactures the HondaJet advanced light jet and GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines in America. Cumulatively, Honda has invested more than $20.2 billion in its American manufacturing capabilities, including more than $5.9 billion over the past five years. The company also works with more than 600 original equipment suppliers in America with cumulative parts purchases of nearly $400 billion.
Information from Honda of America Mfg., Inc.