TOKYO – Honda Motor Co. Ltd. plans for Job One at its new Alabama facility on November 15, six months ahead of schedule, says Honda President Hiroyuki Yoshino.
The plant, which was constructed in a compact yearlong time frame, currently is doing pre-builds of the Odyssey minivan. The decision to move up the start of production, says Yoshino, was based on customer demand for the popular Odyssey, currently only built at Honda’s capacity-constrained plant in Alliston, Ontario, which also has absorbed production of the Acura MDX sport/utility vehicle.
“We were not comfortable making the customer wait so long,” Mr. Yoshino says.
After some of total Odyssey production is shifted to the forthcoming plant, production of the MDX will fill the remainder of capacity at the Canada plant.
Based on Honda’s flexible global manufacturing system, the plant is meant to bring on additional vehicles as capacity is needed.
Honda, due to its benchmarked levels of efficiency, currently does not have extra production capacity. That fact, paired with booming sales in the U.S., may lead Honda to begin producing a second vehicle soon.
The Alabama production facility joins Honda’s North American plants in Canada and Ohio, and is the automaker’s first in the southern U.S., an area where foreign automakers increasingly are setting up shop.