Mark Morrison, manager of corporate affairs and communications for HMA, said the investment does not mean an expansion in acreage for HMA, but rather an expansion within HMA’s existing facility.
Morrison said the project will increase production capacity and enhance and improve vehicle and engine manufacturing flexibility for the plant.
“The additional jobs and significant financial investment in our Lincoln facility will offer improved efficiency in costs, quality and delivery for our Alabama manufacturing operations,” he said.
“We believe the investment and additional employment offered by this new venture also will benefit our associates and their families, the local community and our customers.”
The expansion is unrelated to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, said Steve Sewell, who has worked with HMA in developing the plan for the expansion.
“The tragedy in Japan has presented a short-term crisis that Honda is working through and maintaining globally, but this represents a capital investment that is really tied into their long-term planning at the facility,” said Sewell, who is executive vice president of Economic Development Partnership of Alabama in Birmingham.
“Honda has been recognized as one of the global automakers that have really invested in flexibility, that is the ability to shift and adjust to market demand, and I think this reflects the flexibility and long-term stability of the facility there in Lincoln.”
Since it began production operations in November 2001, HMA has become the sole production source of the Odyssey minivan, the Pilot sport utility vehicle, the Ridgeline pickup, and V-6 engines. It employs more than 4,000 associates and producing more than 300,000 vehicles and engines annually.
In addition to increasing jobs and production capacity, the $1.5 billion worth of investments HMA has made to the state of Alabama will more than likely be made more plentiful with the current investment project.
“For the past 10 years Honda has played an important role in the Alabama economy,” Gov. Robert Bentley said.
“We are so pleased the company will invest even more in our state to expand and create even more well-paying jobs for Alabamians.”
Construction, equipment installation and testing for HMA’s investment project are expected to be complete in mid-2012.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Japanese carmakers were warning that some of their overseas factories would stop running in an effort to conserve supplies. “Toyota and Honda expect shutdowns at North American plants. Honda said production could be interrupted after April 1. Most of its parts are made in the region, but a few critical ones still come from Japan,” according to the Associated Press story.
The Honda plant in Lincoln will not be closing, but production will be slowing down, spokesman Ted Pratt said.
“Honda Manufacturing of Alabama is making every effort to keep our facility operating without extensive disruptions to production,” Pratt said in a written statement.
“A strategy of temporary production adjustments initiated at Honda plants throughout North America will allow us to cope with this parts supply issue. Honda in Lincoln will temporarily reduce production at varying levels from day to day. During non-production hours, Honda associates will have the option to remain at work, schedule vacation or take time off without pay.
“The vast majority of Honda’s parts and materials are sourced here in North America,” Pratt said. “However, for global efficiency, a few critical parts continue to be supplied from Japan. Most of our Japan-based parts suppliers have either resumed production or are ready to restart their operations.”
However, he said a few suppliers have yet to resume production.
“In those cases, Honda is working with its suppliers to help re-establish their operations, while evaluating other possible sources for those parts in the supply chain,” Pratt said.
Contact Aziza Jackson at email@example.com.