RELATED: Honda will suspend shift on Marysville production line
The plan, Honda has said, is to prepare part of the Marysville plant to produce electric vehicles. The shift is expected to resume in several years.
And Honda has emphasized that the move will result in no layoffs. The automaker has offered temporary or “contingent” employees incentives to leave employment.
Meanwhile, Honda leaders believe there is demand for sedans.
“We feel like there will be a demand,” Shoupe said. “It may not be as high as it once was in the past.”
Retooling for the future is nothing new for Honda, Shoupe said, noting that the company retooled its East Liberty plant for light trucks. At the 2.1-million-square-foot East Liberty plant, workers assemble the Acura RDX, a compact premium SUV, and the Honda CR-V (which is made at other facilities, too).
“We’re in a position right now where we’re looking at constantly evolving and changing the Marysville operations, as well,” Shoupe said.
MORE: Ohio attorney general sues local wedding photographer
Honda’s story in Ohio has been one of steady success. Since 1979, the company says it has never laid off a full-time employee, and today, the company includes 8,000 Miami Valley residents as workers, at the Anna engine plant and a pair of Troy distribution facilities. Some Dayton- and Springfield-area residents also commute to Honda’s central Ohio plants daily.
In the late 70s, some observers doubted Ohioans could make a product up to Honda’s standards, Shoupe said. But company founder Soichiro Honda had no doubts, and auto production was approved the very day the first motorcycle rolled off an assembly line.
“On the day we launched, there was a single fax that said: ‘Proceed with automobile production,’” Shoupe said.
The first auto was assembled three years later. Today, the company also does business with more than 600 U.S. suppliers to the tune of nearly $30 billion.
Phil Parker, Dayton chamber chief executive and president, noted that Honda inspired other Japanese-owned and foreign companies to establish manufacturing in Ohio along Interstate 75.
According to the Consul General of Japan in Detroit, in 2017, Japanese-owned companies employed nearly 3,400 workers in 17 Montgomery County facilities.
“The economic impact has been outstanding,” Parker said.