Honda continued the expansion of its manufacturing operations in North America with the production start of the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit at a new, automobile plant of Honda de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (HDM). The start-up of the Celaya Plant increases Honda’s annual automobile production capacity in North America to approximately 1.92 million units. In 2013, more than 90% of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the US were produced in North America; this is expected to exceed 95% when the Celaya plant reaches full capacity.
Located in Celaya, Guanajuato, the US$800-million plant began production less than two years after construction started in early 2012, and will employ 3,200 associates with an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles and engines when it reaches full production later this year. In addition to the 2015 Honda Fit, the plant will begin production late this year of an all-new compact SUV.
The Celaya plant, designed exclusively for the production of subcompact vehicles, features a number of Honda’s most advanced manufacturing technologies—including several that were first introduced last year at Honda’s new Yorii Plant in Japan—to increase quality and efficiency and reduce the plant’s environmental footprint. Key technologies include:
A high-speed servo stamping press and adoption of a high-speed die change process that increases the efficiency of the stamping process by approximately 40%.
An all-new, highly efficient general welder system, which joins the vehicle body panels together, achieves a major reduction in the number of welding robots, while increasing the number of weld points for higher quality and efficiency.
A new 3-coat/2-bake, water-based painting process (replacing the traditional 4-coat/3-bake process) to reduce energy consumption during the painting process by approximately 40%, while enhancing paint finish quality.
A highly efficient production line intended to reduce the time and space for assembly processes, that includes a reduction in heavy-lifting processes for improved associate ergonomics, an increase of in-plant sub-assembly processes and new strategies that ensure both more efficient and more precise vehicle assembly.
LED lighting was installed throughout the plant and vehicle yard to reduce energy usage.
Together with the new $470-million transmission plant now under construction at the same site in Celaya, the new auto plant will play a significant role in the region as Honda’s North American operations take on increasing responsibilities within global Honda for product development, production and sales activities. The new transmission plant in Celaya is expected to begin production of continuously variable transmissions (CVT) in the second half of 2015, with employment of approximately 1,500 associates.
The new plants will boost Honda’s capital investment in its North American operations to more than US$21 billion. Honda employs more than 33,000 associates in North America. Production operations related to automobiles also include four auto plants, two auto engine production facilities and two transmission plants in the United States, and two auto plants and an auto engine plant in Canada.
The Celaya Auto Plant is Honda de Mexico’s second auto plant. The first plant, located near Guadalajara, was established in El Salto, Jalisco in 1995.
2015 Fit. Honda unveiled the 2015 Fit and Fit Hybrid in Japan in September 2013 (earlier post); the 2015 Fit had its North American premiere at the North American International Auto Show in January.
The 2015 Fit marks the US debut of an all-new direct-injected 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC engine. Generating 130 horsepower (97 kW) at 6500 rpm and 114 lb-ft (155 N·m) of torque at 4600 rpm, engine output is increased by 13 horsepower and 8 lb-ft compared to the outgoing engine, while reducing weight and improving efficiency.
Paired to two new transmissions, a 6-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with available paddle shifters, the Fit powertrain is anticipated to have EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 33 city/41 highway/36 mpg US combined (7.1, 5.7 and 6.5 l/100km) in the CVT-equipped models.
Complementing the new powertrain is a revised chassis that provides for improved handling, ride comfort and NVH. A more rigid body, new rear dampers and revised suspension geometry enhance the 2015 Fit’s ride quality and fun-to-drive handling characteristics.
The 2015 Fit benefits from the most extensive use of ultra-high strength steel in the model’s history, providing increased body stiffness while reducing platform (underbody and chassis) weight by 57 pounds (26 kg) versus the outgoing model.
Equipped with the next generation of the Honda Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, Honda anticipates the 2015 Fit will earn top safety scores from NHTSA and IIHS, including a NCAP 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score and a TOP SAFETY PICK rating with a GOOD rating in all IIHS test modes, including the rigorous small overlap barrier test.
The 2015 Fit will be manufactured for the first time in North America at the new Celaya plant.