MARYSVILLE — After a challenging 2011, Honda used its popular mainstays Accord and Civic to climb back to the strong sales to which the company was accustomed.
In November at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Honda unveiled a quick redesign of the Civic to replace a widely panned 2012 version. And on Wednesday at its Marysville Auto Plant, Honda celebrated the 1 millionth vehicle exported from the United States, a 2013 Accord sedan headed for South Korea.
Honda recently marked 30 years producing automobiles in the United States, starting at the Marysville plant in November 1982, and 25 years of Honda exporting U.S.-made vehicles to overseas markets. Within two years, Honda will become a net exporter of automobiles from North America, exporting more from its North American plants than it imports from Japan, company officials said Wednesday.
“Quality for the world, made in America, has been an important Honda commitment for the past 25 years,” said Honda Motor Co. President and CEO Takanobu Ito by video message to employees in Marysville on Wednesday.
Honda invested $2.2 billion in its North American operations, including facilities in Marysville, East Liberty, Anna and Russells Point over the past two years. The company will increase automobile production capacity in North America from the current 1.63 million to 1.92 million units in 2014. Because of that, annual exports of Honda and Acura automobiles from the United States are expected to surpass the previous single-year export record of 105,511 vehicles, set in 1994. Also in 2014, of the 1.92 million vehicles made, 90 percent will be sold to North American customers.
The region contributes to and benefits from Honda’s success:
• The Marysville Auto Plant employs 4,200 and makes the Accord sedan and coupe and the Acura TL.
• The East Liberty Auto Plant employs 2,500 and makes the CR-V and Crosstour and Acura RDX.
• The Anna Engine Plant employs 2,400 and makes four-cylinder engines for Accord and Civic, and V6 engines for Accord sedan and coupe, Crosstour, Acura TL, MDX, RDX and ZDX and Ridgeline.
• The Russells Point Transmissions Plant employs 1,050 and makes automatic transmissions.
Honda has largely recovered from a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and floods later that year in Thailand that limited parts supplies. In November, the American Honda reported an all-time record sales month, with sales of 116,580 vehicles, a 39 percent increase over November 2011.
The Civic, the nation’s top-selling compact car, broke a 22-year-old November sales record, with more than 30,000 sold, up 75 percent from a year ago.
Engines and automatic transmissions for the Civics produced in Indiana come from Honda’s engine plant in Anna and transmission plant in Russells Point. Most of the transmissions for the Civics built in Canada also come Russells Point.
The Accord climbed back up the sales ladder, with an 82 percent increase over November 2011, with more than 26,000 sold. Also, The Acura RDX set its seventh-consecutive monthly sales record and the MDX was the top-selling Acura in November, with 3,368 sold.
“We are now surpassing sales records set pre-recession, a true sign that our business has recovered,” said John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of sales.
With the new Civic now available for purchase, the company expects a strong finish to the year, Mendel said. The 2012 Civic was received poorly. Typically a perennial pick for Consumers’ Digest best buys, it was left off the magazine’s list this past year. The company responded, turning around a major redesign in just a year.
The Civic now has new front and rear exterior styling and interior styling upgrades on all models. Retuned steering and suspension sharpen the handling, and body and chassis upgrades improve the ride and quietness. It now includes new standard equipment, such as hands-free phone links, iPod connection, steering wheel audio controls and rear-view camera. The Civic LX Sedan is priced beginning at $18,165, $160 more than the 2012.
“Our industry has never been more competitive and fast changing, and a significant refresh of Civic … just one model year after its debut as an all-new model shows true speed to market,” Mendel said.