FILE PHOTO: American Honda Motor introduces the 2018 Honda Accord at the Garden Theater in Detroit
By Nick Carey
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.
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)