Our Honda team is ringing in 2023 with a milestone event – the production of the 30 millionth vehicle in America. This achievement is based on the efforts of associates at our eight auto manufacturing facilities in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Ohio. These are separate facilities, connected by both the spirit and experience that began 40 years ago with our very first auto plant in America – the Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio.
As I reflect on this achievement, it is clear to me that what has been most important to our success over the past four decades is not our investment in new facilities – now totaling almost $20 billion – or the continued advance of new technology and equipment. Rather, it's our investment in generation after generation of Honda associates who have advanced their skills to adapt to changes in technology and the needs of our customers.
This is especially true now, as Honda is preparing for the electrified future – our vision to make battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles represent 100% of our vehicle sales in North America by 2040 – including our plan to make those vehicles here in America within the next few years.
Our path to the electrified future will be similar to the narrative that led to our production of 30 million vehicles in America. A focus on people.
I joined Honda 35 years ago as an equipment engineer in the paint department in that first plant in Ohio. That was 1988, when our cumulative production was less than 500,000 vehicles.
I was a young engineer straight out of college, and I recall that we had only one computer in the entire office, and it was shared by everyone.
Today, advanced technology is the cornerstone of auto production, requiring vast amounts of computing power. The technological innovation we have seen in every aspect of our lives is amazing, including the vehicles we make for our customers. In fact, with the advanced technology in our vehicles today – safety sensing systems and connected car technologies – we probably have more computing power in a single vehicle than we had in the entire plant when I joined Honda.
We opened a second Honda auto plant in Ohio, and I was advancing my skills in production engineering and production planning when Honda decided to establish a new auto and engine production facility in Alabama. I was tapped to join a small team of experienced engineers from our plants in Ohio and Canada to help construct and launch production at the new plant.
Our goal wasn't just to expand our production volume, but to pass on our skills and experience to a new generation of Honda associates. This kind of challenge, where success requires that we all pull together as one team, demonstrated that our most proven and true strength comes from our team of associates.
Over the past 25 years, we continued to expand our operations, and our eight auto plants in Ohio, Alabama and Indiana produce some 12 Honda and Acura vehicles, along with the engines, transmissions and hybrid-electric systems that power them.
I spent most of that time at our Alabama Auto Plant, ultimately serving as the Plant Lead. One of my joys was to spend time on the production floor talking with the people who make products for our customers. And I have to say that seeing the growth in expertise and leadership has been a very rewarding experience.
I'm proud that my successor as Plant Lead of the Alabama Auto Plant, Lamar Whitaker, is a home-grown Honda associate who I met when he joined the company, the year we began production in 2001.
Now, I'm back in Ohio... where I get to be a part of history repeating itself, in the sense that we face another big challenge as we embark on the exciting journey to electrify our Honda and Acura electric vehicles. And once again, success will be defined by the ability of our associates to develop the skills and expertise that will be shared across our U.S. production network.
Toward that end, we are establishing an EV Hub in Ohio, with an investment of $700 million to re-tool three of our plants in Ohio to produce EVs and EV components. And the Honda associates working in this new hub will develop the knowhow and expertise in EV production that will be shared across our North American auto production operations in the coming years.
This EV Hub will include a new EV battery plant, a joint venture investment of $3.5 billion with LG Energy Solution to make the batteries for EVs built in our Honda auto plants.
These investments – which include a focus on attracting and preparing the next generation of skilled associates who will represent our manufacturing workforce of the future – serve as the foundation of our plan to produce EVs in our U.S. plants.
Building 30 million vehicles in America is the direct result of Honda associates, past and present, who made this significant achievement possible. Now, our team is hard at work to make our next 30 million vehicles made in America truly electrifying.
Senior Vice President
Honda Development & Manufacturing of America, LLC