Honda sales slip in February, marks building 25M cars in U.S.

3:30 p.m Friday, March 2, 2018 Business

Honda, which has been making cars in Ohio since 1982, manufactured its 25 millionth vehicle in the U.S. this week.

That car, a 2018 Honda Accord, will be delivered to a dealer and sold to a customer like any other car. It rolled off the company’s assembly line in Marysville on Wednesday.

Honda is one of the region’s largest employers, with about 1,400 workers from Clark and Champaign counties and employing about 13,000 Ohioans overall.

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February sales were down about 5 percent compared to the same month in 2017, company officials also reported this week. American Honda Motor Co. Inc. reported sales of 115,557 Honda and Acura vehicles, which was lower than the same period last year.

Honda car sales were down 6.9 percent, while truck sales declined 4.4 percent. The company’s luxury Acura division reported sales ticked up 1 percent, with about 11,000 units sold last month.

It was the first Japanese automaker to produce cars in the U.S. when Honda opened the Marysville facility more than 35 years ago, Plant Manager Rob May said. Honda also produces vehicles in Alabama and Indiana.

Of the 25 million vehicles produced, about 18 million were made in Ohio in East Liberty and Marysville, May said. Honda also manufactures the Acura NSX at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville.

“It’s fair to say we have created a special place in Honda history here in America,” May said.

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The company has steadily grown since opening in Marysville. Honda employs more than 20,000 workers in the U.S., where it produced 1.2 million vehicles last year. In Clark and Champaign counties, companies like Yamada, Parker Trutec and KTH Parts Industries supply parts to the automaker.

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“This achievement truly represents 25 million customers who put their faith in the Honda brand and we will continue to honor this relationship with a focus on achieving the highest levels of quality and innovation in the next 25 million vehicles,” said Tom Shoupe, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Honda of America Mfg. Inc.

During an event to mark the milestone, employees gathered around a pearl blue 2018 Accord, although May said it was likely a different Accord that was the 25 millionth to roll off the assembly line. The Accord, which is produced in Marysville, was named the 2018 Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto show earlier this year over competitors from Kia and Toyota.

Honda invested about $220 million at its Marysville plant as part of its redesign of the latest version of the Accord. Workers in Marysville also produce the Acura TLX and Acura ILX models. Workers there will begin producing the Honda CR-V this summer to keep up with consumer demand.

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Honda’s facility in East Liberty produces the CR-V, along with the Acura RDX and Acura MDX. Honda also operates an engine plant in Anna and a transmissions plant at Russells Point.

Honda officials also said this week the company established an annual scholarship fund to mark manufacturing 25 million vehicles. Honda will donate an initial $25,000, administered through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. It will be used to cover scholarships for students studying engineering, supply chain and manufacturing at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

Scholarship recipients will be invited to interview for internships and co-op positions with Honda.