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HONDA OF AMERICA MFG. ASSOCIATES SET NEW STANDARD FOR U.S. AUTO INDUSTRY WITH DEBUT OF NEW 1994 ACCORD

 MARYSVILLE, Ohio, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- As mass production of the new 1994 Accord begins today, associates at Honda of America Mfg. (HAM) are establishing new standards for the domestic auto industry by implementing the most complex model changeover ever attempted -- without stopping production and ahead of schedule.
 "With this model, HAM associates have accepted a challenge unprecedented in the U.S. auto industry," said Bob Simcox, Marysville Auto Plant manager. "No other auto plant has undertaken such a complex new model change, with four model types -- Sedan, Coupe, Wagon, and right-hand drive for export around the world -- on two production lines, in a high-volume production environment, all within about six months."
 The model change marks the fourth time in 10 years that HAM's Marysville Auto Plant associates have completed a full model change without the plant closings or layoffs which are typical for model changes in the U.S. auto industry. No other auto plant has had so much experience in launching new models, as most auto plants launch a full model change every six to eight years, Simcox noted. The Marysville Auto Plant was the first U.S. auto plant to implement a "running model change" (without stopping production) in 1985. Associates also completed running model changes in 1987 and 1989.
 Associates at the Marysville Auto Plant will manufacture more than 300,000 units in the coming model year, including 85 percent of the Accords sold in the United States and exports to 23 countries. Engines, drivetrains and suspension parts for the 1994 Accord are manufactured at HAM's Anna Engine Plant in Shelby County, Ohio.
 "We have the best team building the best car for Honda customers worldwide," Simcox said. "Everything this team has accomplished -- every idea from every associate -- is for one purpose: satisfying the customer and exceeding customer expectations."
 AMERICAN SUPPLIERS PLAY KEY ROLE
 HAM's network of North American suppliers played a critical role in the successful launch, Simcox said. "We depend on our suppliers as members of our team -- a team which is now overwhelmingly a domestic team of suppliers," he said.
 With the new model, HAM's domestic supplier base grew to 320 companies, an increase of 25 new suppliers. The new Accord includes about 395 new domestic parts, including anti-lock brakes, passenger side airbag, moonroof, exhaust system components and many other items. Purchases from North American suppliers are estimated at $2.96 billion in 1993.
 With the new domestic suppliers and components, the local content of the Accord rises to 82 percent, an increase of more than seven percent over the previous generation. "Increasing domestic content is good news for men and women in many American communities where it means more jobs, more earnings, increased production and opportunities to export their parts around the world in our automobiles, engines and motorcycles," Simcox said. U.S. suppliers employ approximately 20,000 people to support HAM production.
 HAM ASSOCIATES CONTRIBUTE TO EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF NEW MODEL
 The contributions of HAM associates to the new model began in the earliest design phases, as manufacturing associates worked closely with Honda designers as early as 1991.
 "Through early involvement as members of the development team, our associates made recommendations to improve the manufacturing process, reduce cost and increase quality for the customer," Simcox said. "It is a unique opportunity in the U.S. auto industry for production associates to work so closely with R&D," Simcox said.
 For the Sedan and Coupe, about 35 HAM associates began work three years ago with Honda associates in Japan, living and working together in Japan as partners in developing the 1994 Accord for production. For the Accord Wagon, HAM manufacturing associates worked hand-in-hand with Honda R&D in Ohio to build prototype units and develop the model for mass production.
 For example, one HAM associate helped engineers in Japan to redesign stamping dies to increase efficiency. This idea will save hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as reduce waste, consistent with HAM's philosophy of environmental responsibility. Another contribution by HAM associates improved ergonomics in production, already among the best in the industry. HAM associates worked with designers in Japan to re- engineer clips used to attach various parts in the car so that less pressure is needed to apply them, thus reducing the chance for workplace injuries.
 "To our customers, it may be just another fun-to-drive, reliable Honda. To us, it is also a vehicle for global teamwork, for increasing the involvement of our American team in Honda's global development process," Simcox said.
 The launch of the 1994 Accord is a major milestone in Honda's 10th anniversary year of auto production. HAM associates began producing automobiles in November 1982. More than 10,200 associates manufacture automobiles, motorcycles, engines and drivetrain and suspension components at four plants in Ohio. Honda's total investment in Ohio manufacturing facilities is more than $2.8 billion.
 -0- 9/1/93
 /CONTACT: Roger Lambert, 513-644-7714, or Sharon Van Winkle, 513-644-7977, both of Honda of America Mfg./


CO: Honda of America Mfg., Inc. ST: Ohio IN: AUT SU: PDT

KL -- CL007 -- 7950 09/01/93 12:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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