Saturday, October 22, 2011

Honda Transmission Mfg. Invests Additional $50 Million to Expand Ohio Aluminum Casting Operations

Current Honda Construction Projects In Ohio Now Exceed $400 Million
    Building on a series of recent investments at Honda manufacturing facilities across the state of Ohio, Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. today announced a $50 million expansion to increase capacity for the casting of aluminum transmission cases. This latest project brings Honda's total new capital investment in its Ohio operations to more than $400 million, and more than $8 billion since the company started manufacturing in the state in 1979.
    The 75,000-square-foot expansion at the Russells Point plant will house high-pressure die-casting operations to support the addition of a third transmission assembly line that began construction in December 2010. The new assembly line announced earlier, part of a 200,000-square foot plant expansion, will increase the plant's capabilities to manufacture Honda's latest transmission technologies.
    The two projects together will create more than 100 jobs by 2013 as production begins at these two new operations. In addition, earlier this year, Honda Transmission added 60 new jobs to support the start of a second shift to produce automatic transmissions for the all-new 2012 model Honda Civic.
    "This latest investment in Ohio is another example of how we intend to meet the needs of our global customers by implementing advanced technologies in our production operations and in our products," said Honda Transmission President Yuji Takahashi.  "It also demonstrates our commitment to Honda's Ohio production operations to reduce the environmental impact of our facilities while positioning this facility to compete at the highest levels on a global basis."
    The expansion will house advanced aluminum casting machines to support production of Honda's latest transmissions, and introduces an efficient melting furnace to the plant's operations. Honda Transmission now receives approximately 100,000 pounds of molten aluminum per day from two aluminum mills in Indiana.
    "The new melting furnace will implement technologies that will improve efficiencies and reduce our environmental impacts," said Plant Manager Gary Hand. "These improved efficiencies will reduce waste and energy consumption."
    Already a zero waste-to-landfill facility, Hand adds that the plant will continue reusing and recycling all leftover materials from its operations, sending no waste to landfills.
    The investment also includes construction of a new associate entrance, along with a new lobby entrance and activity center, at the south end of the facility. When completed, Honda Transmission's extensive casting, machining, forging and assembly operations will encompass 1 million square feet.
    These projects are the latest in a series of investments at this state-of-the-art transmission facility. Earlier this year, Honda Transmission completed a $25 million renovation of the plant's aluminum machining lines, steel gear production, and to increase flexibility on the current assembly lines. These modifications resulted in adding domestic production of six-speed automatic transmissions this year for some Honda Odyssey models.
    Since starting production of automatic transmissions in 1996, Honda Transmission has steadily expanded to keep pace with Honda's growth in the new passenger car and light truck model segments. Production of transmission gears was added in 2006 and four-wheel-drive assemblies in 2007. Those projects, which doubled the plant's size, localized production of most steel gears and four-wheel-drive assemblies for Honda's North America operations.
    Honda Transmission currently employs approximately 1,000 associates who manufacture transmissions and four-wheel-drive assemblies for automobiles produced at the Marysville and East Liberty auto plants in Ohio, as well as other plants in North America. The impact of Honda Transmission's production extends to some 50 domestic suppliers that provide more than 500 parts for the plant's production.
    Other Major Honda Construction In Ohio
    Since November 2010, Honda has undertaken a series of plant innovation projects in Ohio exceeding $355 million. These projects are central to Honda's future in Ohio and its ability to compete globally.
    • Construction is under way on a 155,000-square-foot expansion at the East Liberty Auto Plant for new door and instrument panel sub-assembly lines, and extension of its automobile assembly line. Additionally, construction began this year on a 40,000-square-foot expansion to consolidate the plant's Vehicle Quality Department.
    • At the Marysville Auto Plant, a new stamping press is under construction that will increase the speed, precision and capacity of the plant's metal-forming capabilities. The $64 million project encompasses 24,000 square feet in the plant.
    • On-site parts consolidation centers under construction at the Anna Engine Plant and East Liberty plant will improve efficiency by reducing parts handling and truck shuttles.
    • Beginning operations in early 2012, the $31 million consolidation center at the Anna plant, encompassing 320,000 square feet, will eliminate approximately 2.8 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year by reducing truck traffic.
    • The 396,000-square-foot center at the East Liberty facility will eliminate 2.5 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year - when fully operational in 2014.
    More About Honda's Ohio Operations
    Since starting auto production in 1982 using domestic and globally sourced parts, Honda has produced more than 14 million vehicles at it's two Ohio auto plants. In Anna, Ohio, Honda's largest auto engine plant in the world manufactures four-cylinder and V-6 engines for automobile production in Ohio, Indiana and Canada.
    In addition to its manufacturing operations, Honda has established substantial R&D and engineering operations in Ohio, along with a large regional parts distribution center and other operations that support product development, manufacturing and sales in North America. Among all its operations, Honda directly employs approximately 13,400 Ohioans and tens of thousands more through its suppliers and other business partners.
    Honda purchased $6.7 billion in parts from 150 Ohio suppliers last year, and a total of $17.5 billion in parts purchases from nearly 600 domestic suppliers in North America.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    2012 Honda Insight: What's New

    2012 Honda Insight LX
    For the 2012 model year, Honda has made improvements to its aging dedicated hybrid, the Insight, to compete better with the refreshed Toyota Prius and other hybrids. Critical updates include better fuel efficiency, increased sound-deadening materials and improved rearward visibility.
    Reduced friction in the engine and transmission in addition to improved aerodynamics boost gas mileage by 1 mpg over the 2011 model. The 2012 is rated at 41/44/42 mpg city/highway/combined. The combined rating is only 2 mpg less than the substantially more expensive 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid.
    The Insight will also be quieter with the addition of thicker sound-deadening material. We thought the Insight had admirable noise dampening compared with other compacts, but not against the midsize Prius. A thinner rear spoiler and a more compactly mounted rear wiper motor improve rearward visibility.
    2012 Honda Insight LX - interiorThe exterior has been refreshed slightly, too. New bumpers and a new grille better associate the Insight with the redesigned Honda Civic; the original look alluded more to the Honda FCX Clarity.
    In the cabin, a redesigned rear headliner shape adds more headroom for backseat passengers. The rear seat has been redesigned to improve comfort. There’s a new gauge cluster and larger front-passenger cupholders for large drinks. The armrest (when equipped) has been redesigned for improved support.
    In terms of features, the LX trim now gets map lights, steering-wheel-mounted controls and a more premium fabric upholstery. The EX gets Bluetooth connectivity, automatic headlights and a new synthetic leather and premium fabric upholstery. The EX with navigation now has a rearview camera and a 16-gigabyte flash card system to improve routing and FM traffic updates.
    All of these updates are small potatoes, but with its 2012 introductory price of $18,350 (up just $150 from 2011) the entry Insight costs $5,170 less than an entry retail-available 2011 Prius, which is likely to see a price increase when Toyota announces pricing for the 2012 model year. Even a loaded EX Insight with navigation is just about as expensive as an entry-level 2011 Prius. With improved gas mileage, the Insight’s value proposition just got a little more enticing.
    Continue reading below for more pricing details:
    2012 Insight pricing (2011 pricing)
    • Insight: $18,350 ($18,200)
    • Insight LX: $20,125 ($19,900)
    • Insight EX: $21,815 ($21,490)
    • Insight EX with Navigation: $23,540 ($23,265)
    • Destination: $770 (same)