Honda to spend $85 million to enable East Liberty site to build the Acura MDX

Article by Christian A., on February 20, 2015

Honda Motor Co. is planning to invest $85 million to give its East Liberty site in Ohio the capability to build a fourth nameplate – the Acura MDX. The investment will result to the addition of new welding equipment, conveyors and other gear that will enable the plant to assemble the Acura MDX crossover starting early 2017.

The plant East Liberty currently builds the Honda CR-V crossover and Crosstour hatchback, and the Acura RDX crossover. Honda will still produce the MDX at its Lincoln plant in Alabama that also builds the Honda Pilot crossover, Ridgeline pickup and Odyssey minivan.

According to John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, adding a second production site for the MDX will provide the Japanese carmaker flexibility as its expects truck sales to rise, adding that the company is bound to roll out a redesigned Pilot this year and a redesigned Ridgeline in 2016.

He remarked that the redesigned Pilot "will really raise the stakes” in the midsize SUV segment. He quipped that once the carmaker starts selling the Pilot and the MDX remains a strong seller, it would be in a position to hike output of both models to cater to growing demand.

Compared to the previous-generation MDX, the 2014 iteration is longer both in terms of overall length (plus 2.0 inches) and wheelbase (plus 2.8 inches). With its width reduced by 1.3 inches, the new MDX is also lower by 1.5 inches, with its rear step-in height lowered by 1.8 inches. In addition, the front and rear tracks of the new MDX are 1.4 inches and 1.2 inches, respectively, narrower than on the previous model.

Thanks to its new configuration, the new MDX has a 2 percent smaller frontal area to the wind, thereby enhancing its aerodynamic efficiency. Its narrower body helps the MDX to easily fit into garage, while its longer wheelbase improves cabin roominess and ride quality. Meanwhile, the passenger hip points in the first and second rows are now lower by 1.2 inches while in the third row, the hip point is lower by 1.4 inches.

As made possible by its longer wheelbase and its new, more compact rear suspension, the new MDX offers a 4.5-inch wider foot entry point and 1.8-inch lower step-in height for the rear cabin, making it easier to enter or exit the rear compartment. Second-row passengers benefit from seats with five-position reclining seatbacks. Thanks to a new Extended Slide feature, these seats offer up to 5.9 inches of fore-aft seat travel.

When the middle-row seats are in their rearward-most position, the first- and second-row tandem seating distance is now longer by 1.1 inches. Meanwhile, a new One-Touch Walk-In feature allows for a one-button operation of the second-row seats, which makes it easier to enter or exit from the third row.

Press Release

Honda Announces Dual-Source Production Strategy for Acura MDX to Strengthen Growth in Light-Truck Segment

  • Move will increase flexibility to meet growing demand for light truck models produced in North America, including Acura MDX and 2016 Honda Pilot
  • Honda Investing $85 million in East Liberty Plant to produce Acura MDX in Ohio beginning in 2017
  • MDX production will continue in Alabama alongside Honda Pilot, Odyssey and Ridgeline

To further strengthen its position and growth in the light-truck segment, Honda today announced plans to add a second U.S. production location for the Acura MDX luxury SUV. This move will help meet growing demand for both Honda and Acura light trucks produced in North America, including the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot launching this summer. Leveraging its flexible manufacturing capabilities, Honda will add production of the Acura MDX to its East Liberty, Ohio plant beginning in 2017. Production of the MDX will continue at the company's Lincoln, Alabama plant, which currently makes both the MDX and its V-6 engine. Honda will invest $85 million in the East Liberty Plant for the addition of new welding equipment, the extension of vehicle conveyors and other changes required to support production of the MDX.

"This initiative will give us greater flexibility to meet growing customer demand for our Honda and Acura light truck models," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.  "Increasing our flexibility and fully utilizing available production resources is critical to our future growth, which will be driven heavily by our light truck business and new models like the Honda HR-V crossover and redesigned Pilot SUV."

The announcement of the plan to dual-source MDX comes on the heels of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. having posted its second-best year ever in 2014 and, last week, reporting a new January record for Honda and Acura vehicle sales. U.S. sales of Honda and Acura light trucks were up 25.2 percent in January to 52,169 vehicles, a new January record. Acura light-truck sales rose 13.1 percent in January, while Honda brand light-truck sales rose 27.1 percent for the month.

The East Liberty Plant currently produces the 5-passenger Acura RDX sport-utility vehicle, the Honda Crosstour and the best selling SUV in America, the Honda CR-V.  The Lincoln, Alabama plant is currently the exclusive production location for the Acura MDX, Honda Pilot SUV and Honda Odyssey.  The plant will strengthen its light truck lineup when it resumes production of the next generation Honda Ridgeline pickup truck next year.

Now in its third generation, the MDX is the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time1. The current generation MDX has continued this success and has received multiple awards including a KBB.com Best Buy award in the Luxury SUV/Crossover category for the 2015 model year. The 2016 MDX features numerous enhancements, including a new 9-speed automatic transmission. Customers can view, build and price a 2016 Acura MDX at acura.com/MDX.

The redesigned, all-new 2016 Honda Pilot will debut Thursday, Feb. 12, at the Chicago Auto Show, when more details about the third generation Pilot will be available.

 

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