LOS ANGELES - American Honda Motor Co. Inc. will import up to 60,000 Japan-built Accords in the 1999 model year to meet demand that its North American plants are unable to fill.
In addition, 10,000 U.S.-version Accords previously exported from Honda's Marysville, Ohio, plant to the Middle East and China will now be sourced from Japan.
Starting this summer, Honda will produce the redesigned Acura TL sedan at its plant in Marysville, which already is topped out building the Accord.
Honda will build about 60,000 Accord-based TLs for the U.S. and Japanese markets at Marysville, the sole source for the car. But that means 60,000 fewer Accords will be built in Ohio, so Honda will try to fill the pipeline with cars built at its plant in Sayama, Japan.
Honda imported about 21,600 Accords in calendar 1997, but has shut off the spigot so far this year. Through April, imports totaled only 393 units. Accord inventory is less than 20 days' supply at dealerships and, through April, the car is only 6,807 units ahead of the Ford Taurus and 19,636 ahead of the Toyota Camry in the top-selling-car race.
For the Japanese plant to build U.S. Accords, Honda will have to import body panels from its Thailand plant, which builds an Asian-market Accord with identical sheet metal to the U.S. model.
In related news, Honda also said it will keep the Odyssey name for its all-new minivan that arrives this fall, and delete the smaller, Japan-built Odyssey from its lineup.
Honda hopes to sell 60,000 of the new Odysseys annually. The minivan will be manufactured in Alliston, Ontario.
Staff Reporter James B. Treece in Tokyo contributed to this report