Honda’s new supercar shows importance of Ohio to automaker

Honda is now building the only supercar currently manufactured in the United States at its Ohio plant, a move that has lead to more jobs and experts said shows the state’s importance to the automaker.

Workers at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville are now building the 2017 Acura NSX, a car on par with high-end vehicles such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris. About 150 models have been built so far as part of the trial stages, Chief Engineer Clement D’Souza said.

The lessons learned from building the supercar will likely filter down to more mainstream Honda and Acura models, IHS Automotive Principal Analyst Joe Langley said.

“They’re getting back on track as a company and focusing on that engineering expertise,” he said. “It was a testament to the faith that they have in their Ohio operations.”

Honda is a major employer in the state. It employs 13,000 workers in Ohio, including about 1,400 who live in Champaign and Clark counties.

Logan County Chamber of Commerce President Paul Benedetti said he’s pleased Honda decided to build the supercar locally.

“We’re excited that Honda will be building their most high-end product here in the central Ohio area,” he said.

The move shows the talent of local workers, Benedetti said.

“Putting this NSX line in speaks volumes about the quality of workers and the degree of skill in automotive building that we have here,” he said.

Associates who moved to the Performance Manufacturing Center created about 100 open jobs in both the Marysville and Sidney plants, D’Souza said.

The impact on the economy spreads to suppliers as well, he said.

“We have a huge supplier base in the Ohio area,” D’Souza said.

The Marysville plant was chosen to build the NSX because of its existing facilities, he said.

“We’ve been building cars here for 30 years,” he said. “The amount of experience both on the engineering side and the production side is humongous.”

Honda also wanted to bring the car closer to its customer base in the United States, he said.

Manufacturing of the NSX for sale is expected to begin in late April, D’Souza said. Delivery of vehicles will followed shortly after. Once manufacturing is up to speed, the plant will build eight to 10 supercars a day.

About 100 Honda employees from area facilities were chosen to work on the project, D’Souza said. Seven employees who work on the NSX live in Champaign County, nine in Clark County and 17 in Logan County.

“Having to select from such a large pool of talent and narrowing it down to just 100 people was extremely difficult,” he said.

Experienced employees were needed for the high attention to detail required to please supercar customers, D’Souza said.

Langley also said the high-tech car could attract younger people to work in the automotive industry.

“That is not only part of Honda’s agenda but part of the auto industry in general, too,” he said.

The supercar will start at a cost of $156,000 and top out at $205,700.

The automaker cruised to a new sales record in 2015 as experts said the auto industry overall benefited from low interest rates and an improving economy.

Combined Honda and Acura met an all-time record of more than 1.58 million vehicles sold in 2015, a 3-percent increase over the previous year.

Most analysts expect the sales trend to continue for at least the next two years, with projected sales of 17.8 million cars this year and more than 18 million vehicles in 2017.

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