ANNA, Ohio - This little town of sturdy farmhouses and gingerbread Victorians, framed within flat, straight two-lane highways, barely shows up on most maps. But Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. has invested $970 million to build engines here.
Anna produces one of the most versatile engine lineups in the world auto industry in support of a growing list of North American-built vehicles. Each day, the plant produces nearly 4,000 four- and six-cylinder engines in eight variants.
The complex also supplies two different versions of Honda's 1,500cc flat-six motorcycle engine.
In contrast, Honda's engine plants in Japan largely produce just one product each.
'We've grown quickly: We're now the largest maker of auto engines for Honda anywhere in the world,' says Art Baldwin, the manufacturer's staff administrator.
'And that means we've had to mature quickly, because a lot of responsibility has been thrust on us. Honda is known worldwide for its engine manufacturing, and now we have the responsibility for American leadership in engines.'
Anna is a far cry from Honda's early days building cars in the United States. There was no engine plant then, and all of Honda's vehicles came with four-cylinder engines, anyway. Today, Anna supplies almost everything Honda builds in North America.
In just the past few years, Honda has invested more than $200 million in the complex to enhance flexibility and capability, including the addition of four 3,500-ton die-casting machines.
A new block-machining line that initially was projected to handle 1,000 units a day already was boosted to a 1,200-unit daily capacity. Now Honda managers at Anna are reconfiguring it yet again to meet new sales forecasts for 1,450 units a day.
'We didn't want to invest in a 1,500-unit line right away and lose any customers,' says Jay Sturwold, senior manager at the Anna plant.
'So our strategy was to step it up gradually - another part of being flexible.'