Honda Motor Co. plans to spend $85 million to enable its East Liberty, Ohio, plant to produce a fourth nameplate, a move stemming from the company's bullish outlook for North American truck sales.
The East Liberty factory will get new welding equipment, conveyors and other gear that will enable it to assemble the Acura MDX crossover starting at the beginning of 2017. The plant produces the Honda CR-V crossover and Crosstour hatchback, and the Acura RDX crossover. MDX production will continue at Honda's Lincoln, Ala., plant, which also assembles the Honda Pilot crossover, Ridgeline pickup and Odyssey minivan.
John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, said adding a second source for the MDX will give Honda flexibility as truck sales rise and the company adds a redesigned Pilot this year and a redesigned Ridgeline next year.
The redesigned Pilot "will really raise the stakes in the midsize SUV segment," Mendel said. If Pilot sales take off, and the MDX also remains a strong seller, the company will be in a position to increase production of both models to meet demand.