Honda has begun manufacture of the 2015 Honda Fit at the new and advanced plant of Honda de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (HDM).
The new plant increases Honda's ability to meet customer demand for fuel-efficient subcompacts from within the North American region.
The start-up of the Celaya Plant increases Honda's annual automobile production capacity in North America to approximately 1.92 million units.
In 2013, more than 90 per cent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the US were produced in North America; this is expected to exceed 95 per cent when the plant in Celaya, Guanajuato reaches full capacity.
The US$800 million plant has begun production in under two years after construction began in early 2012. It will employ 3,200 “associates” with an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles and engines when it reaches full production later this year.
In addition to the 2015 Honda Fit, the plant will begin production of an all-new compact SUV, later this year.
"Our new plant in Mexico is based on Honda’s company principle of maintaining a global viewpoint to supply products of the highest quality, yet at a reasonable price, for worldwide customer satisfaction," claims Honda's president and chief executive officer Takanobu Ito. "In Celaya, we can see these core values in action, with a commitment to the highest quality and efficiency and a focus on creating joy for our customers."
The Celaya plant, designed exclusively for the production of subcompact vehicles, features a number of Honda's most advanced manufacturing technologies in the world, including several first introduced last year at Honda's new Yorii plant in Japan. These are intended to increase quality and efficiency and reduce the plant's environmental footprint.
Among these features is: a high-speed servo stamping press and the adoption of a high-speed die-change process to increase the efficiency of the stamping process by 40 per cent. Honda has specialised for many years in continuously improving both its stamping processes and its die-change techniques.
The plant also has an all-new and improved general welder system which joins body panels more efficiently, achieving a major reduction in the number of welding robots, yet increasing the number of weld points for higher quality and efficiency.
Honda has also installed a new three-coat/two-bake, water-based paint process (replacing the traditional four-coat/three-bake process) to reduce energy consumption during the painting, again by about 40 per cent, while at the same time enhancing paint finish quality.
Finally there is a more efficient production line intended to reduce the time and space for assembly processes. This includes a reduction in heavy-lifting processes for improved associate ergonomics, an increase of in-plant sub-assembly processes and new strategies that ensure both more efficient and more precise vehicle assembly. LED lighting has also been installed throughout the plant to reduce energy usage.
Next year, a new US$470 million transmission plant will come on stream in Celaya. This will begin production of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in the second half of 2015. It will provide employment for a further 1,500 associates. ∎
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