Economic development officials optimistic following Honda announcement
The executive director of the Economic Development Corp. of Greensburg/Decatur County says Honda Motor Co.’s (NYSE: HMC) announcement on Tuesday that it intends to move production of the Accord sedan to Indiana sends a strong signal of stability for the plant and its workers.
Bryan Robbins says the automaker has shared few details about the move, other than it intends to begin production of the Accord at the Indiana Auto Plant by 2025. The facility, which started production in 2009, produces CR-Vs, Insight Hybrid Models and the Civic Hatchback, which Honda launched in 2021 for model year 2022.
“I think anytime a company decides to move one of its core products to your facility for manufacturing, I think that’s a show of commitment, stability and belief in what you do at your plant and those associates that work there,” said Robbins in an interview with Inside INdiana Business. “I think it’s a great positive as far as the EV transition.”
LISTEN: Even as Honda moves towards the expansion of EV production, Robbins said the need is still there for the Greensburg-built products.
The company’s decision to move production to the Indiana Auto Plant (IAP) in Greensburg is part of a broader plan to begin electric vehicle production at a factory in Marysville, Ohio, where the Accord is currently built. Honda began auto production in America at the Ohio plant in 1982. Now, it’s the company’s first auto plant in the U.S. to transition to EVs. Honda says it will retool two assembly lines in Ohio to produce electric vehicles and EV parts.
The company says it intends to shift to 100% battery-electric and fuel cell EVs by 2040. But until then, internal combustion engines are still needed.
“Even as Honda accelerates preparation for EV production, the company plans to sustain current ICE and hybrid-electric vehicle production in order to continue to meet anticipated strong customer demand through 2030 and beyond. The sustained success of ICE and hybrid-electric vehicle sales also will support the required investment in the electrified future,” said the company in a news release.
Honda says the shift to IAP will allow it to maintain production volume of what it calls an “important core model,” while enabling the transition.
According to Kelley Blue Book, the Honda Accord was the 20th most popular vehicle in the U.S., in terms of sales, in 2022. The Civic ranked No. 25 for domestic sales last year. Both were bested by the CR-V, which was ranked 7th in sales in 2022, with more 238,000 units sold. KBB says those sales numbers were down as Honda, like all automakers, struggled with supply chain problems.
State economic officials are also pleased with the decision, as they say it continues to bolster the Hoosier State’s ranking as No. 1 in the nation for manufacturing output. Indiana Economic Development Corp. Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff David Rosenberg says the automotive sector and OEMS, like Honda, deserve much of the credit.
“We are excited that company is continuing to grow its operations in Indiana – a testament to our business-friendly climate and skilled, hardworking Hoosier workforce,” said Indiana Economic Development Corp. Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff David Rosenberg. “Indiana’s economic momentum is robust, and we look forward to even more growth this year for our automotive sector as we build the future of mobility here.”
While not providing details of necessary changes to the Indiana plant, Robbins says when the 1.3 million-square-foot plant in Greensburg was built, flexibility to shift production was key.
“In the way it was designed, the way it’s organized, the [plant] can switch cars on a on a dime. It’s very flexible,” said Robbins.
Robbins says there has been no indication of changes to staffing levels at IAP, which currently employs about 2,500 workers. However, the news release from Honda said the company “expects to maintain employment stability across all locations during these key next steps in this transition.”
For now, Robbins remains optimistic about the future of the plant.
“Anytime you have that investment in your in your plant, that shows there will be continued to be jobs, there continues to be a stable economy,” said Robbins. “Having that commitment to a large employer in your community is nothing but good for Greensburg and Decatur County.”