Reporting Jeff Gilbert
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DETROIT (WWJ) - Honda says it plans to make North America the centerpiece of its global product efforts.
“We’ll be able to build everything from subcompacts to supercars, and everything in between in North America,” said Rick Schostek, senior vice president of Honda of America Manufacturing, in a speech to the Automotive Press Association.
INTERVIEW: Honda VP Rick Shostek talks with WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert.
Honda announced today that it’s going to add production of the Civic Hybrid to its Greensburg, Indiana plant. The $40 million upgrade will add 300 jobs, and increase production capacity to 250 thousand vehicles a year.
The plant currently builds the conventionally powered Civic and the Acura ILX luxury compact.
Shostek said that Honda has decided that, as the company’s largest market, North America should take the lead when it comes to developing, building and launching new products.
“We’re really talking about North America becoming much more of a global leader for Honda’s manufacturing,” Shostek told WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert. “In the past, global models—and here I’m talking about things like Civic and Accord—they’d be launched in Japan first.”
Honda, this November, will celebrate its 30th anniversary of manufacturing in the United States. Shostek says currently 85 percent of the vehicles Honda sells in North America are built here. They aim to raise that to 90 percent in the next few years.
“It makes sense for us to increase the amount of production here, increase the capabilities and for this region to become a leader, helping other regions say in Europe or South America, as they build global models as well,” he said.
Honda also aims to double exports of vehicles that are made in North America to other parts of the world. They currently export about 100 thousand vehicles a year from this market.
This doesn’t include a move of Honda’s headquarters to the U.S., said Shostek, who gave a very careful answer when asked if he considered Honda an “American company.’”
“We’ve been doing business in the United States for an awfully long time,” he said. “We consider ourselves part of the industry fabric here. Yea, I’m proud to work for Honda in America.”
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