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Honda Manufacturing of Alabama

John Mohr, Auburn University
Honda Employee
Located in Lincoln, Talladega County, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama (HMA) is the second vehicle manufacturing facility built in the state and the fourth manufacturing facility established by Honda in the United States. A subsidiary of Honda Motor Company of Japan, HMA directly employs approximately 4,000 workers and represents a total capital investment by Honda of more than $2 billion. The facility produces the Odyssey minivan, the Pilot sport utility vehicle, and the Acura MDX luxury sport utility vehicle. The facility also includes an engine plant that builds V6 engines for other Honda vehicles produced in the United States. The engine plant and the vehicle manufacturing facility each have an annual capacity of 340,000 units. Vehicle production at HMA began in 2001. In 2013, HMA built its three millionth vehicle, an Odyssey minivan. Honda officials constructed the HMA facility as part of a plan to increase its production capacity in the United States, where its minivans and sport utility vehicles are very popular.
In 1999, Honda's announcement that the company would build another vehicle manufacturing facility in the United States prompted state officials to put together an incentives package to attract the company. Alabama governor Don Siegelman lobbied Honda officials extensively to convince the company to locate in the state. Although Siegelman was highly committed to attracting Honda, he and his political supporters were concerned about potential voter backlash. Former governor James E. Folsom Jr.'s failed reelection bid was partly attributable to the $253 million the state offered to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International to open its plant in Vance, Tuscaloosa County, and was considered by many voters to be excessive. Therefore, the Siegelman administration tried to structure the incentives package in a way that would engender less criticism. The state and Talladega County ultimately provided more than $158 million in incentives, principally $55.6 million in tax breaks for the company and $102.7 million to buy land, prepare the site for construction, and train workers. There were, however, some complaints as opponents characterized the incentives as a misuse of taxpayer dollars and a form of corporate welfare. Despite these criticisms, the deal was approved and Honda officials accepted the package.
Honda Employees in Lincoln
In 1999, Honda announced that it would build its new factory in Lincoln. It was initially projected to represent a $400 million capital investment and would directly employ 1,500 workers producing 120,000 vehicles and engines a year. The company broke ground on the facility on April 25, 2000. On November 14, 2001, the first Odyssey minivan rolled off the assembly line. Within a year, Honda announced another $425 million investment and expansion to increase production to 420,000 vehicles and engines annually, with 2,000 additional workers being employed as well. In 2004, HMA began producing the Pilot sport utility vehicle and by 2006 had produced its one millionth vehicle. In 2009, Honda transferred production of the Ridgeline pickup truck from its Canadian factory to the Lincoln plant and also began production of the Accord V6 midsize sedan. The transfer of Accord production from Marysville, Ohio, to Lincoln was prompted by a loss in demand resulting from the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing economic recession, and production of the Accord was discontinued at Lincoln in 2010. In 2013, the plant began to build the Acura MDX luxury sport utility vehicle and produced its three millionth vehicle and engine that same year. Production of the Ridgeline ended in June 2014, but a second generation of that vehicle is currently under development by Honda.
Honda Welding Robots
The plant occupies 3.7 million square feet on 1,350 acres in Talladega County, just east of the Coosa River and north of Interstate 20. The HMA site contains facilities for numerous steps that are part of auto manufacturing operations. There are facilities for casting and machining aluminum engine blocks used to build the V6 engines. In addition, other on-site facilities produce injection-molded plastic parts and numerous industrial robots stamp out pieces, weld parts, and paint components as part of the plant's highly automated processes. Final assembly takes place in a state-of-the-art general assembly facility. A road-testing track and other quality assurance and testing facilities are incorporated into the site as well. HMA has an extensive network of component parts suppliers located within the state.
Since 2011, Honda has invested an additional $508 million in the facility, bringing total capital investment to more than $2 billion. HMA was the first North American vehicle plant designed as a "zero landfill" facility, meaning that no material from the production process is sent to a landfill. The HMA facility is not unionized and has not been the target of any serious organization campaigns. All of Honda's other North American facilities are also non-union, in keeping with a company policy of discouraging organized labor.
Published:  February 6, 2015   |   Last updated:  February 17, 2015