Honda Motor Co., Japan’s first automaker to build cars in the U.S., is consolidating corporate operations for North America in Ohio and also setting up a new unit there to provide regional support services.
Honda North America Inc., now based in Torrance, Calif., moves to Marysville, Ohio, effective April 1, the company said Friday. About 50 employees, including senior executives from Torrance, will relocate to Marysville, said Jeffrey Smith, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carmaker. Torrance will remain Honda’s U.S. sales and marketing base, he said.
“Honda has been giving North America more and more responsibility for designing and developing vehicles, and this is part of that,” said Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive. “It’s certainly a move to improve efficiency since you’ll have the people responsible for product development, engineering and manufacturing all in one place.”
Honda, Japan’s third-largest automaker, counts North America as its biggest global market and largest source of profit and sales. The company’s Marysville factory was the first Japanese auto-assembly plant in the U.S., beginning auto production in 1982.
The company also has set a goal of becoming a net exporter of cars and trucks from North America as production operations in the region grow.
“These organizational changes will improve the speed of decision-making and the efficiency of our business operations,” Tetsuo Iwamura, Honda’s executive vice president and chief operating officer for North America, said in a statement. Iwamura will split his time among Marysville, Torrance and Tokyo, Smith said.
The company is also creating Honda North America Services LLC in Marysville to coordinate support functions for Honda’s units in the region. Hidenobu Iwata, head of production for North America, will lead the services unit.
The changes won’t result in additional employment at this time, Smith said.
Honda also said it’s promoting long-serving U.S. and Canadian managers. From April 1, Bob Nelson becomes president of the Greensburg, Ind., auto plant, which produces the Civic; Joe Minto, will lead Honda Engineering North America, which makes manufacturing equipment; and Dan Smith will be president of Honda’s Alliston, Ontario, auto plant that assembles the Civic and CR-V.