Three of Honda's internal combustion car manufacturing plants are being significantly reconfigured to support its EV plans.

Honda has been accused of being behind on the transition to EVs. The brand aims to prove us wrong. It insists that it was always planning to pivot to EVs. Honda’s proving this by turning its central Ohio manufacturing facilities into an EV hub right in the nick of time, the company revealed in a roundtable with journalists. This announcement is more than just an outline of its future plans, as many of the changes are already well underway. It plans to officially start EV production in Ohio in 2025.

Central Ohio has been a cornerstone of Honda’s North American operations. Back in 1982, Honda was the first Japanese company to manufacture cars in the United States. It built the Accord in Marysville, Ohio, and has continued building them there ever since. Honda’s reconfiguring three of its most important plants—Marysville, East Liberty, and Anna—to make EVs, batteries, and EV components. That means that the Accord’s production will eventually shift to Indiana. Honda hasn't said when that will happen. 

This is part of an over-$700-million investment Honda claims it is making to turn its Central Ohio operations into an EV manufacturing hub. The Marysville auto plant—which currently makes the Honda Accord, Acura TLX and Acura Integra—has now been simplified from two manufacturing lines to one. Honda is working on retooling the second line to produce its self-developed EVs, as well as any excess ICE models if needed. The Marysville plant will also have a new secondary area in the plant for IPU assembly. The IPU, or Intelligent Power Unit, is critical to the vehicle. It houses the EV’s power electronics and battery. Honda says when this portion of the factory is completed, it will supply these devices to the other side of the Marysville plant, and its forthcoming EV operations at East Liberty, Ohio. 

Speaking of which, the East Liberty plant (which currently makes the Honda CR-V among other models), is also undergoing some alterations to handle EVs. It is gaining key upgrades in its overhead conveyor system to handle extra weight, which is key for building EVs and their hefty battery packs. It is not quite as far along as the Marysville plant, however, and is expected to come online a little after Honda’s work is done at its Marysville and Anna facilities.

Honda’s Anna, Ohio engine plant is gaining some new machinery to create the IPU assembly cases that will be used in Honda’s EVs. From there, those new IPU cases will go to Marysville for assembly, and then get installed in an EV in either Marysville or East Liberty. It’s a new, American-made system for EVs.

Of course, there are lots of lingering questions about Honda’s investment in EVs. Although EV demand continues to grow, some automakers have backed off from investing because of softer-than-expected growth. Others have been very open about how unprofitable EVs are as a whole, especially ones at the highly desirable sub-$30,000 price range. However, during a roundtable discussion, Honda executives pushed back on the idea. “We are building our supply chain to be competitive,” said Bob Nelson, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Company. “We believe the efficiency of our production will allow us to achieve our competitiveness,” he continued. Nelson said that Honda’s plans were right on track, noting that it had not sped up or slowed down plans to turn into an EV hub. The message seemed to be that this wasn't a rush job. 

These plans dovetail with Honda’s joint venture with L-H Battery Company. This completely separate investment, also located in Central Ohio, is scheduled to go online at about the same time EV production at Honda’s Marysville is up and running. This means that Honda would have US EV manufacturing and US battery manufacturing, two prerequisites for its models to qualify for any IRA purchase tax credit incentives.

Honda wouldn’t confirm the names or specifications of the models planned to be produced in Ohio, but we do know that any Ohio-built EVs will be on Honda's own self-developed platform, unlike the GM-made Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX. It could be the Sony-Honda Afeela collaboration, but the brand wouldn't quite confirm which plant (if either) would produce the model. We'll just have to wait and see. 

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2024-04-12T19:19:31Z dg43tfdfdgfd