- Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
Honda will invest more than $260 million and add 300 jobs to support production of the newest version of its flagship Accord model, which officially rolled off the assembly line in Marysville on Monday.
Company leaders said Monday they expect the car to be a key to the automaker’s future, even as consumers increasingly favor trucks and sport utility vehicles.
Honda is a major employer in the region, with about 1,400 workers from Clark and Champaign counties. Honda employs more than 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.
The Accord has a long history in Ohio. While the first version of the Accord was manufactured in Japan, all nine generations since have been produced in Marysville.
It also was the first vehicle from a Japanese automaker to be manufactured in the U.S., and has been in continuous production at the Marysville Auto Plant since November 1982.
“This is, without question, the car that will carry us into the future,” said Rob May, plant manager at the Marysville facility.
The company invested more than $220 million at the Marysville site to install new technologies and prepare for production, according to information from Honda. That includes $165 million in investment at the site’s weld department and 342 new welding robots, said Jacob Schmidt, associate chief engineer of the weld department.
The company is also investing about $47 million at Honda’s nearby Anna engine plant to produce the Accord’s 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter turbocharged engines, the first time turbo technology has been used to power the sedan.
The newest version of the Accord was redesigned from the ground up, said Steve Rodriguez, Honda’s manufacturing leader for the Accord. The investments, particularly in the weld department, were necessary as the auto maker applied a handful of new technologies in manufacturing the car, he said.
For example, the company utilized a laser brazing process to more seamlessly sculpt the car’s roof and eliminate a strip of molding to improve the car’s look. Other changes included utilizing an acoustic spray foam to reduce noise in the cabin, and the use of high-performance adhesives to make the car’s body more rigid.
“The Accord is our baby here in Marysville and this is the best Accord we’ve ever made,” Rodriguez said.
Honda Sensing technology will also be standard in all 2018 Accords, Rodriguez said. That technology includes several safety features like lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition that allows the car to detect and read road signs like speed limits.
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 will shifting its manufacture back to Ohio. Honda officials didn’t disclose the new Accord’s price or fuel efficiency Monday.
The company’s investment to the weld department could also mean new technologies could also be applied to other vehicles produced in Marysville, Schmidt said.
“Our weld department looks absolutely amazing and we’re blessed to have that level of investment,” Schmidt said.
Workers in Marysville have produced more than 11 million Accords since the sedan first went into production in Ohio, May said.
“That’s an incredible legacy and something we should all take great pride in,” he said.