The Honda Fit is one of four Honda passenger cars sold in North America that isn’t manufactured in North America – but that may soon change. Honda announced today it is constructing a plant in Mexico that, among other things, will build Fit models for the North American market starting in 2014.
Honda’s latest plant will be located in Celaya, Mexico, roughly 200 miles west of Guadalajara. Honda says the factory will occupy 60 million square feet of land, employ 3200 workers, and will be capable of building 200,000 vehicles annually once production reaches full pace. As a result, Honda’s North American production capacity is expected to grow from 1.63 million units to 1.87 million in the next two years.
The facility was first announced last year, but its Fit production responsibilities were announced today at the groundbreaking ceremonies. Although the assembly line is reportedly flexible enough to handle several different models, the plant will first focus on churning out Fit models for the U.S, Canada, and Mexico. Honda Motor Company President and CEO Takanobu Ito said in a prepared statement the Fit was chosen after the company “considered the needs of the Mexican market, and also to serve as a global production base for the North American region and beyond.” The latter may carry more weight, since it allows Honda to avoid fiscal losses due to an increasingly strong Japanese Yen.
This isn’t Honda’s first foray into manufacturing in Mexico – it operates a handful of motorcycle and automobile assembly plants in El Salto — nor is it the first time a Fit has been assembled outside of Honda’s homeland. While U.S.-spec Fits are presently sourced from Japan, Honda also builds the subcompact hatchback in Brazil, China, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Honda notes the addition of Fit production in Mexico means all four of its global model lines – Civic, Fit, Accord, and CR-V — will be manufactured here in the U.S.
Honda isn’t the only one investing in Mexico to build small cars for North America. Nissan announced in January it will spend nearly $2 billion to build a plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, capable of building vehicles derived from the automaker’s subcompact B-platform. Models that currently use the Nissan B architecture include the Juke, Cube, NV200, and Versa hatchback.