Honda Motor Co. will construct a $470 million plant in Celaya, Mexico, to build continuously variable transmissions. The Celaya site will operate alongside a still under-construction site that will produce the next-generation Fit hatchback and a Fit-based crossover. According to Honda, the new CVT plant will commence operations in the second half of 2015 with an initial capacity of 350,000 units, which will eventually increase to nearly 700,000 within several years.
At peak capacity, the Celaya plant will employ around 1,500 workers. On the other hand, the Fit assembly site is expected to start operating in spring 2014 with a planned capacity of 200,000 vehicles. The Celaya site will be Honda's third transmission plant in North America. When the site reaches full capacity, the carmaker’s transmission capacity in North America will exceed 2 million units. Honda is expected to equip the new Fit and Fit-based crossover with CTVs.
The only Honda models North America equipped with CVTs are the Accord four-cylinder, Civic Hybrid and Insight. Their combined sales are fewer than the Celaya site’s 700,000-unit capacity. Honda already builds CVTs for the Accord in Russells Point, Ohio. Honda, however, will shift the production of CVT pulleys from Japan to Anna, Ohio, in July 2013.
The Russells Point site currently has enough transmissions for all Accords produced in North America, Honda spokesman Ed Miller said. He remarked that the Celaya site will focus on producing CVTs for vehicles built in North America but he hints that adding export to other global markets is possible.