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Honda breaks ground for 'Bama car plant.

Honda Motor Co President and CEO Hiroyuki Yoshino used a tiller--a Honda tiller, naturally--to break ground for a new auto and engine plant in Lincoln, AL, this spring.

At the same time, Honda Mfg of Alabama LLC (HMA) announced it will accelerate the plant's production launch from the original timetable of April 2002 to late 2001. When the plant opens, it will begin by turning out the Honda Odyssey minivan and its V-6 engine. It will also invest an additional $40 million to add new production operations.

All this early planting on the 1350-acre site 40 miles east of Birmingham will bring HMA's total initial investment in Alabama to $440 million.

"We are breaking ground for more than a factory," says Mr Yoshino. "We are breaking new ground with a comprehensive facility that will build vehicles and engines. And we are breaking new ground in our relationship with the people of Alabama."

"Stepping up the start date for production demonstrates how important this new facility is to Honda," said Mikio Yoshimi, HMA's first president.

Expanding on its plans originally announced May 6, 1999, HMA will add several operations, including stamping of steel body parts, plastic injection molding, and low pressure die-casting. These manufacturing processes mean that more of the substantial vehicle and engine production operations will be performed in Alabama.

HMA expects to begin interviewing nonexempt (production) associates this summer with the formal hiring process to begin in fall 2000. HMA will employ approximately 1500 associates when it reaches its twin annual capacities of 120,000 vehicles and 120,000 engines.

When completed, HMA will increase Honda's capital investment in the US to more than $5.2 billion, increase US employment to more than 20,000 associates, and bring the number of major Honda manufacturing plants in North America to ten.

Together with production increases at Honda's four other auto plants in the US, Canada, and Mexico, HMA will help boost total North American auto production capacity to 1.16 million units by 2003.
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Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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