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Honda: More Product Possible In Alabama

Ward's AutoWorld, Jul 1, 2000 12:00 PM

While a team of 170 employees of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. work out the logistics of ramping up a new facility in Alabama, Mikio Yoshimi, president of Honda Mfg. of Alabama, says there is "no limit" to additional product possibilities there.

The $440-million Alabama plant will start with a modest 120,000 Odyssey minivans a year. It falls under Honda's "Start Small" strategy: a low-scale investment that expands with demand and the experience of the new workforce, says Mr. Yoshimi.


Honda likes to build many products in a single facility. There are four models on two lines at Marysville, OH, and more than 10 models at one Japanese facility. Alabama will be no exception, says Mr. Yoshimi. "We have to think about the next one (product). It's a natural part of business."

Among the options is making Alabama the sole source for Odyssey, instead of splitting production with Alliston, Ont. The Canadian plant adds production of the Acura MDX (Odyssey-based) sport/utility vehicle. Initial production of MDX is 35,000 to 40,000 units.

Expanding Alabama will be quick and cost-efficient under Honda's new Global Manufacturing System, which reduces the time and investment to add new models or existing models at a different plant. The Alliston Odyssey plant is the first to use the system, which by fiscal 2004 should save the automaker Yen 100 billion ($937 million), says Honda Motor Co. Ltd. President and Chief Executive Hiroyuki Yoshino.

When Honda's plant in Lincoln, near Birmingham, goes into production, the automaker will make more vehicles in North America than Japan, says Mr. Yoshimi.

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