Honda Manufacturing of Alabama announced its intention to create 20 new jobs during a Talladega County Com-mission meeting Monday. The commission met to approve tax abatements for the $97 million new vehicle project.
Honda told its employees last week that it would add the popular Acura MDX luxury sports utility vehicle by 2013 to its assembly lines. However, the company held off on announcing the increase in employment or the $97 million investment amount.
“As far as the new jobs, we were not prepared to announce the investment and jobs at that time due to the May 9 Talladega County Commission meeting,” said Honda spokesman Mark Morrison.
The $1.5 billion Honda Manufacturing plant employs 4,000 people and is the exclusive North American producer of the Odyssey minivan, the Pilot SUV and the Ridgeline pickup.
The addition of the MDX to the Lincoln plant’s assembly line is part of the parent company’s long-term planning in North America.
The Acura MDX is currently produced at a plant in Canada. The shift in production to Lincoln will allow the Cana-dian plant to make the Honda CR-V SUV.
While the Honda CR-V is currently made in an Ohio plant, the Canadian facility will be able to produce more of them.
“Honda Manufacturing of Alabama plays a strong role in our state’s economy, and I am very pleased with the com-pany’s decision,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a press release.
The Monday announcement comes more than a month after Honda Manufacturing said it would be investing $94 million to expand the facility and create 20 new jobs in the process. The project should be completed by late 2012.
“This project allows us to increase our manufacturing flexibility and capability ... making it more efficient in the fu-ture to produce multiple products on the same assembly line,” Morrison said of the earlier project.
Neither project is related to parts supply issues Honda and other Japanese automakers are facing due to the March 11 tsunami and earthquake in Japan.
The devastation in Japan has slowed production of certain parts for Honda worldwide, causing temporary slow-downs at its plants in North America, including the plant in Lincoln.
Honda has said overall automobile production in North America would remain at significantly reduced levels through the summer months. The company’s goal is to normalize production near the end of the year. The recovery will occur step-by-step and will vary based on plant and model.
The Lincoln plant’s slowdown is expected to last through June, Morrison said.
Morrison has said Honda Manufacturing is doing its best to avoid layoffs during the downtime, instead allowing employees to take training courses or vacation time when there is no work. And since the April tornado disaster in the area, Honda has sent many of its workers to help in recovery efforts, Morrison said.
Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256-235-3561.