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Honda Plans to Build Transmission Plant in Mexico

Honda Motor Co., the first Japanese automaker to build cars in the U.S., plans to build a $470 million transmission factory in Mexico at the same site as an auto plant opening in 2014.

The parts facility opens in 2015’s second half in Celaya, near the central Mexican city of Guanajuato, and will be able to make as many as 700,000 continuously variable transmissions a year, Tokyo-based Honda said today in an e-mailed statement. It will employ 1,500 people and be adjacent to a factory scheduled to start making Fit subcompact cars next year.

“This will establish an efficient production structure that will maximize our Mexican and North American content,” Executive Vice President Tetsuo Iwamura said at a press conference in Mexico City with Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajuardo.

Mexico has drawn billions of dollars in automotive investment in recent years, particularly from Japan’s carmakers. Along with the country’s lower production costs, Mexico’s favorable trade agreements with the U.S., Latin America and the European Union make it appealing as an export base.

Honda announced its $800 million Celaya auto-assembly plant in 2011. Mazda Motor Corp. is building a $650 million factory in the same state, where it will make Mazda2 and Mazda3 cars and also small cars for Toyota Motor Corp. Nissan Motor Co. expects to complete a $2 billion plant alongside an existing facility in the state of Aguascalientes by the end of this year.

Honda said today that transmissions made in Celaya will also be exported to its other plants in North America and overseas. The company’s American depositary receipts rose 1.1 percent to $39.63 at the close in New York.

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