Honda Motor Co., which gets the highest portion of autos sold in the U.S. from North American plants among Asian and European automakers, will produce its Acura NSX sports car in Ohio, President Takanobu Ito said.
Production and sales of the mid-engine V6 hybrid “super car” will start within three years, Ito said yesterday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Development of the car is being shared between engineering groups in the U.S. and Japan, Ito said.
“U.S. is where we sell the most, so it makes sense to make it here,” Tetsuo Iwamura, chief operating officer for Tokyo-based Honda’s North American unit, said in an interview in Detroit yesterday. The company plans to export the vehicle from Ohio to Japan and other global markets and is still studying details of the new production site, he said.
Honda seeks to revive flagging sales after production delays triggered by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand coupled with unfavorable reviews for some new products led to a 6.8 percent sales decline in the U.S. last year. The company, which relies on the U.S. for the largest portion of its global sales, got 87 percent of U.S. vehicles sold in 2010 from its North American plants.
Honda rose 1.6 percent to 2,493 yen as of 9:59 a.m. in Tokyo trading. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.3 percent.
“This is positive news for investors to know Honda isn’t stubbornly sticking to domestic production,” said Takashi Aoki, who helps manage 120 billion yen ($1.6 billion) at Tokyo-based Mizuho Asset Management Co. “The market for sports cars is bigger in the U.S. and Honda is the first among Japanese carmakers to cross the line and transfer core vehicle production overseas.”
The original NSX, developed by an engineering team led by Ito, was sold in the U.S. from 1990 until 2005. That model, with an aluminum body, was produced at Honda’s Suzuka, Japan, plant.
The decision to build the second-generation NSX was made prior to Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Iwamura said. While the company didn’t provide pricing for the new car, Iwamura said in a December interview in Las Vegas that the model couldn’t be sold for less than $100,000.
Acura also unveiled yesterday the new ILX model, an entry-level luxury sedan that goes on sale early this year, and a revamped version of its compact RDX luxury crossover.
Honda’s U.S. unit is based in Torrance, California.