Honda showed off its newest version of the Accord in Detroit on Friday, highlighting an Ohio-made car that company leaders said was a key to the automaker gaining a foothold in America.
About 1,400 workers from Clark and Champaign counties work for the automaker, and it employs about 14,500 Ohioans overall.
Several area companies, including KTH Parts Industries in St. Paris and Parker Trutec in Springfield and Urbana supply parts for Honda. Topre America, which specializes in producing high-strength steel products, has also pledged to open a new $55 million 146,000-square-foot plant at the end of the summer.
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The Accord, now in its 10th generation, is made in Marysville and will launch a complete redesign this fall. The car’s features include more leg room and a lighter, more rigid frame. The Accord has a long history in central Ohio, where the second generation Accord rolled off the assembly line in 1982. It was the first car from a Japanese automaker to be built in America, according to company officials.
“Accord also helped put Honda on the map an an automaker, as the first car we manufactured in America,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of the Automobile Division of American Honda Motor Co. “It’s been in continuous production at our Marysville, Ohio, plant for 35 years now.”
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A hybrid version of the Accord also will be produced in Marysville. Honda had been producing the hybrid version in Japan in recent years, but is shifting its manufacture back to Ohio.
“We are incredibly excited about the all-new 2018 Honda Accord that was revealed today,” said Rob May, plant manager at the Marysville Auto Plant at Honda of America Mfg. in an email. “Having built nine of the 10 generations of this iconic vehicle here in Ohio over the last 35 years, the Honda of America Mfg. team takes great pride in building the Accord and we are preparing to deliver an exceptionally high quality product to the market. The return of the all-new Accord Hybrid adds another exciting dimension to our lineup.”
Despite a growing appetite for trucks and SUVs among consumers, demand still exists for sedans, said Stephanie Brinley, an auto analyst for IHS Markits. Through June this year, Honda sold 160,091 Accords, down about 6 percent compared to the same time last year.
“It’s is true that segment is under pressure and it’s not going to be as big as it was before,” Brinley said. “There’s a good chance they won’t sell as many as they did of the previous generation no matter how good it is. However Honda understands that and they have the CR-V and the Pilot and some other products in the lineup. As long as they are also doing those well, there is opportunity to maintain that customer.”
The Accord is typically one of the top contenders in its segment, which also includes the Chevy Malibu and the Toyota Camry, Brinley said.
The Accord’s 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter turbo engines will be produced at Honda’s Anna, Ohio, engine plant and the continuously variable transmission transmission will be manufactured at the company’s Russells Point, Ohio, plant.
Honda officials didn’t disclose the new Accord’s price or fuel efficiency Friday.
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By the numbers:
1982 — Year first Accord rolled off Marysville assembly line
35 — Years of Accord production in Ohio
11 million — Accords made in the U.S. since 1982
8 — other international automakers that followed Honda into U.S. production