Honda engine and transmission plants in Ohio play critical roles in launch of new CR-V hybrid producing newly refined Atkinson-cycle engine and fourth-generation hybrid system
ALLISTON, Ontario – Associates at multiple Honda plants in North America celebrated today as mass production of the all-new 2023 Honda CR-V hybrid began at Honda of Canada Mfg. (HCM), featuring a new two-motor hybrid system produced at Honda’s Ohio Transmission Plant (TMP-O), and a newly refined Atkinson-cycle engine unique to hybrid models that is made at the Anna Engine Plant (AEP) in Ohio.
The Indiana Auto Plant (IAP) and the East Liberty Auto Plant (ELP) in Ohio, which produced the previous CR-V Hybrid, will begin production of the 2023 CR-V hybrid in the coming months. HCM is the global lead plant for CR-V hybrid production, the first time a hybrid has been built in Canada.
Representing a key step in Honda’s electrification strategy, starting with the 2023 model year, about 50% of CR-V’s annual sales in the U.S. will be powered by Honda’s new, more powerful fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system.
“Knowing the importance CR-V hybrid is set to play to our overall electrification strategy, this is a proud moment for the Honda of Canada Mfg. team as we lead the start of global production of CR-V hybrid,” said Clement D’Souza, senior vice president of HCM.
The all-new 2023 Honda CR-V Sport and Sport Touring trims come standard with the new hybrid system featuring the more refined 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and Honda’s new fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system, featuring a pair of electric motors now arranged side-by-side in a parallel axis layout.
Perfect for daily life or weekend escapes, the new CR-V is longer and wider with premium proportions and a significantly broader stance, further advancing the Honda rugged design direction for light trucks with a low horizontal beltline and a long, powerful front end. Honda’s most popular SUV backs up its strong new looks with a more fun-to-drive personality, more confident and refined dynamics, and increased torque and capability.
New Hybrid-Electric Powertrain Made in Ohio
All three plants producing CR-V in North America, HCM, IAP and ELP, worked in close collaboration with the Anna Engine Plant (AEP) and the Honda Transmission Plant in Ohio (TMP-O), which are responsible for the all-new powertrain for the latest Honda electrified vehicle.
With the sales plan of the new CR-V and Accord hybrid trims expected to represent about 50% of the sales mix of each model, and three different Honda plants in North America producing the new CR-V hybrid models, both AEP and TMP-O were required to dramatically increase production volume for the new engine and hybrid system. For AEP, this increase included more in-house production of engine components and an increase in local sourcing for parts previously supplied from Japan. For example, AEP is now producing the camshaft for the engine in-house, requiring new equipment and a higher number of processes for associates. TMP-O associates will be increasing production volume of the two-motor system 300% (from 500 to 1500 units per day) within just the first two to three months.
“AEP associates have always supported evolution of our business and we are proud to be the sole provider of this engine to all three of our North American CR-V frame plants,” said AEP plant lead Rick Riggle. “The team has worked hard to prepare manufacturing lines across casting, machining, and assembly operations. This is an important step toward electrification for our company and our associates will be ready to meet the challenge.”
The 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine built at AEP is the first Honda engine to combine high-pressure direct injection with multistage injection for an extremely homogeneous mixture that delivers clean combustion. To control high exhaust gas temperatures, the cylinder head uses a new two-piece water jacket, new gas-cooling exhaust ports and a large capacity cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve to bring exhaust gases from the exhaust system back into the chamber to reduce emissions.
- Largest-ever cylinder head: The cylinder head is the largest that associates at AEP have ever produced and required modifications to the cylinder head casting area. The cylinder head casting department implemented a unique sand core mould designed by the production engineering team to accommodate the new EGR valve and enhance productivity for cylinder head production.
- New sound insulation: The engine also features a more rigid crankshaft and secondary balancer to reduce vibration and all-urethane engine cover, a first for Honda. Honda associates at AEP apply new lightweight fiber-foam insulators, that are highly resistant to heat and vibration, directly on the engine in three different places, creating a quieter and more comfortable ride.
The fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system made at TMP-O features a new arrangement, switching from coaxial motors of the same size stacked on top of each other to a two-motor parallel axis system with engines of different sizes mounted side-by-side. The new system also includes new high- and low-speed lockup ratios for direct engine drive on the highway and in the city. Altogether, the new design improves responsiveness for a sportier driving feel and creates a more relaxed driving environment at highway speeds. It also allows for a higher sustained top speed, improves fuel economy and enables up to 1,000 pounds of towing.
“TMP-O associates are proud and excited to provide next-generation components for the 2023 CR-V hybrid,” said TMP-O plant lead Gerald Bruch. “We are fully committed to our electrified future, and this is the first of many steps our associates will take in helping Honda achieve its goals for a carbon-neutral future.”
- Lead plant role increases local parts sourcing: TMP-O is the lead plant for production of the new two-motor system in North America. Combined with the higher volume production to meet Honda’s hybrid sales strategy, TMP-O associates were challenged with an increased number of parts – more than double the previous system – that had to be matured for mass production. The new system has more than 80 new parts being sourced from local suppliers, compared to just over 20 parts with the outgoing system.
- Advanced manufacturing technology: Smart automation was employed in several locations to minimize the number of machines TMP-O added to produce the new system, boosting efficiency and reducing the need for additional space and investment. For example, the TMP-O machining department worked to commonize features and minimize the need for exclusive tooling. The assembly team then worked to apply flexible automation utilizing common robots that can quickly change end-of-the-arm tooling when running different models. This was a unique approach from what Honda plants in Japan and China pursued and paid off with increased flexibility and efficiency and more efficient use of floor space within the Ohio facility.
- Juggling responsibilities: While installing new equipment and processes for the fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system, TMP-O also had to continue production of the third-generation two-motor system on the same manufacturing lines to meet demand for the record sales of current CR-V and Accord hybrid models. Key strategies included adopting sub-assembly lines for the new shaft in order to keep the main assembly line processes the same, even with different and larger parts. TMP-O associates also worked to reduce the length of time required for line modifications by one and a half months to enable the team to start production trials earlier and continue production of the prior generation two-motor unit.
Honda Manufacturing in North America
Honda has produced automobiles in North America for 40 years, beginning in November 1982 at the Marysville Auto Plant. Honda began manufacturing operations in North America in 1979 with motorcycle production in Marysville, Ohio.
Over the past four decades, Honda has steadily grown local production capabilities and now employs more than 30,000 associates at 18 plants with the annual capacity to produce 1.86 million automobiles, nearly 4 million engines, 500,000 power equipment products and 300,000 powersports products, as well as the HondaJet advanced light jet and GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines. In 2021, more than 95% of all U.S.-sold Honda and Acura automobiles were made in North America, using domestic and globally sourced parts.
Cumulatively, Honda has invested nearly $24.6 billion in its North American manufacturing capabilities, including more than $3.6 billion over the past five years alone. The company works with nearly 800 original equipment suppliers in North America with cumulative parts purchases of more than $535 billion.