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Honda Picks Indiana as Factory Site

June 29, 2006|From the Associated Press

GREENSBURG, Ind. — Honda Motor Co. will build a $550-million auto assembly plant near Greensburg, Ind., as part of a $1.18-billion global expansion, the company said Wednesday, ending a five-state scramble and bringing jobs to a state hit hard by manufacturing losses.

The factory will employ 2,000 workers and eventually produce 200,000 vehicles annually, Honda executives said at a news conference.

The Japanese automaker announced in May that it planned to build its sixth North American plant in the Midwest, but did not say where. Officials from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin promoted sites in their states.

"We believe that the great state of Indiana has ... an outstanding community of people, excellent transportation systems and the necessary infrastructure to support industry," said Koichi Kondo, president of Torrance-based American Honda Motor Co.

He said he had been to Indianapolis many times, noting that all drivers in this year's Indianapolis 500 used Honda engines.

"I'd like to point out that there was not one engine failure in the race," Kondo said. "With the racing spirit in mind, today I am happy to be able to say, 'Honda and Indiana, start your engines.' "

Indiana state Rep. Cleo Duncan (R-Greensburg) called the announcement "monumental." Duncan said the plant would help invigorate the state's economy, which has lost 98,000 industrial jobs since 2000. Construction will be completed in 2008.

Kondo declined to say which vehicles would be produced, although the cars would be four-cylinder models. Its Anna, Ohio, plant will provide the engines, Honda said.

The Greensburg plant will boost the Japanese automaker's North American production capacity from 1.4 million to 1.6 million vehicles a year.

The company will soon employ 37,000 people in North America, it said.

Honda and its larger Japanese rival, Toyota Motor Corp., have been ratcheting up their North American manufacturing capacity to keep up with demand, even as U.S. automakers General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are cutting thousands of jobs and closing plants as their market share declines.

North America accounts for about half of Honda's annual global sales.

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