DETROIT (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co Ltd <7267.T> said on Monday its has invested $267 million and will add 300 new jobs to support increased production of its revamped 2018 Accord sedan model at the Japanese automaker's plant in Marysville, Ohio.
Honda unveiled the newest-generation Accord in July, one of four re-engineered midsize sedans that Asian automakers are betting on to win market share as Detroit rivals shift focus to SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks.
The new Accord, like rival Toyota Motor Corp's <7203.T> all-new Camry, offers more horsepower, safety technology like standard collision-avoiding braking and better fuel economy although Honda did not release figures.
Honda's investment in Ohio consists of $220 million for the Marysville plant, including a new $165 million welding department with 342 welding robots. The automaker is also investing $47 million at its Anna, Ohio, engine plant to provide turbocharged engines for the Accord.
Defunct Auto Brands
Defunct Auto Brands
As the auto industry contemplates radical restructuring to save itself, one of the likely fallouts will be the demise of a familiar brand or two. But while disruptive, we have to remember this is nothing new.
Here are a few famous auto brands that have since gone to the great junk heap in the sky.
Formed out of the ashes of the Nash-Kelvinator Corp. and the Hudson Motor Car Co., AMC was conceived as a rival to the Big Three Detroit carmakers: General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. Unfortunately, despite some bold models in the 1970s such as the Gremlin and Pacer, the company's poor product planning led to its being sold to Chrysler, primarily because then-Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca coveted its Jeep division. Next: Eagle
After Chrysler bought AMC in 1987 it spun off its successful Jeep division and then tried to cannibalize the rest into its new Eagle division using a hodge-podge of AMC, Renault, and Mitsubishi designs. The result was, unsurprisingly, confusing to both consumers and critics. The brand never really took off so Chrysler killed it in 1998.
When it went dark in 2004, Oldsmobile became the oldest marque to go out of business. Founded in 1897 by Ransom Olds, the company was acquired by General Motors in 1908 and became one of its most popular divisions. Unfortunately, as power gave way to fuel-efficiency, Olds became increasingly irrelevant and its models failed to catch on with the public.
Plymouth was introduced in 1928 by parent Chrysler to compete with lower-priced models from GM and Ford. For years it was one of the best-selling marques in the U.S., but in the late 1960s became a victim of "badge-engineering." Despite the success of the Voyager, one of the first minivans, overall sales declined and Chrysler pulled the plug in 2001.
Active: 1852-1967 Based: South Bend, Ind. Notable models: Big Six, President, Speedster, Avanti
Before getting into the 'horseless carriage' business, Studebaker was the largest wagon manufacturer in the world. Like many other now-defunct marques it flourished in the years leading up to the Great Depression but unlike many of them it was able to survive into the post-World War II years. Profits remained elusive and the company ceased production in 1966.
The DeSoto was introduced in 1928 by Walter P. Chrysler as a mid-level car and was eventually priced just below Dodge. While it was a popular marque, it was eventually killed because it made Chrysler's lineup too bloated.
Active: 1909-1954 Based: Detroit, Mich. Notable models: Hudson Eight Convertible Coup', Hudson Country Club Six Series 93 Convertible Coup'
In 1925, Hudson was the third-largest carmaker in the U.S. after Ford Motor Co. and Chevrolet. It had factories in the U.S., Britain, and Belgium, and became known for both the handsomeness of its cars as well as the innovation of its engineers. In 1954 it merged with Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors Corp.
Active: 1916-1938; 1938-1954 Based: Kenosha, Wis. Notable models: Rambler, Special Six
When former GM President Charles W. Nash founded Nash Motors in 1916 his goal was to make midpriced cars for America's burgeoning middle class. In 1938, it merged to form the Nash-Kelvinator Corp. and later, in 1954, joined forces with Hudson Motors to become the American Motors Corp. Nash was probably most famous for the Rambler, the first recognized American compact car.
One of the "Three Ps" of American luxury cars -- the other two being Peerless and Pierce-Arrow -- Packard's heyday was in the years leading up to World War II. Its long hoods, powerful engines, and handsome styling were synonymous with elegance and wealth. But it made a critical misstep when it tried to offer lower-priced models. Sales continued to suffer until it went out of business in 1958.
Geo was an affordable line of cars introduced by General Motors in 1988 to compete against lower-priced imports coming from Japan and Korea. The irony is that Geo's cars were all based on designs by either Toyota (Prizm) or Isuzu (Spectrum and Storm). The Geo line was killed off due to the surge in demand for larger, more profitable, gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks. See All the Defunct Auto Brands at BusinessWeek.com
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The Marysville plant also makes the Acura TLX, a luxury midsize sedan, and the Acura ILX, a luxury compact sedan. With the new investments the plant will have a capacity of 440,000 vehicles a year and can add volume for the Accord as necessary, Steve Rodriguez, Honda's manufacturing leader for the Accord, told reporters on a conference call on Monday.
Ray Mikiciuk, Honda assistant vice president for sales, said the company is not giving a sales forecast for the Accord, but added "I don't expect to sell fewer Accords in 2018 with this great new product."
Honda's announcement follows Toyota's last month that it would take a 5 percent stake in smaller Japanese rival Mazda Motor Corp <7261.T> as part of an alliance that will include a $1.6 billion U.S. assembly plant and collaboration on electric vehicles.
The plant came as a surprise for investors at a time of weakening U.S. new vehicle sales.
It also stands in contrast to recent moves by General Motors Co <GM.N> and Ford Motor Co <F.N>. Faced with declining sedan sales, GM has cut the third shift at a couple of its plants.
Ford has announced it will move production of its next generation Focus sedan to China from Mexico to save $500 million in retooling costs. The U.S. automaker also announced in May it was laying off more than 1,000 salaried workers.
Passenger car sales have steadily declined since 2012 when they made up 51.2 percent of the U.S. market. Sedans sagged to a 38.1 percent share in the first half of this year.
(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)