Accords role off the line in Marysville, Ohio. Honda said last year it produced a record 1.78 million vehicles in North America. (Honda)
Washington —Honda Motor Co. said its U.S. unit is now a net exporter of vehicles, with American-built vehicles topping the number of vehicles it imported from Japan.
Honda said it became a net exporter in the U.S. for the first time in 2013, shipping 108,705 U.S.-made Honda and Acura vehicles versus the 88,537 it imported from Japan. Honda’s exports last year were up nearly 50 percent over 2012 — and were five times the 19,976 that Honda exported from the U.S. in 2009.
It comes as automakers in the the United States as a whole are expected to export 2 million vehicles in 2013, topping the nearly 1.8 million shipped in 2012. Combined, the Detroit Three exported about 1 million vehicles from the U.S. in 2012.
Automakers have announced plans to invest $30 billion in the U.S. since 2010, the Commerce Department said. The largest market is Canada, where nearly 750,000 U.S.-built vehicles were shipped in 2012.
The Japanese automaker said that last year it produced a record 1.78 million vehicles in North America, including 1.31 million made in the United States. Honda’s U.S. production was up 7.4 percent and it exports U.S.-built vehicles to more than 50 countries, with Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico as its biggest markets.
Honda’s U.S. exports in 2013 had a total value of $2.7 billion. The Honda Accord, Civic and CR-V were the top-three most exported models.
President Barack Obama in 2010 called for doubling U.S. exports by 2014 and has praised Honda’s U.S. exports in prior speeches. Honda plans to continue to boost auto exports.
“Achieving net exporter status is a natural result of our commitment and investment in the U.S. and North America,” said Tetsuo Iwamura, president & CEO of Honda North America. “The achievement of this tremendous milestone is a result of the efforts of the tens of thousands of associates in America who develop and produce our vehicles, and those who manage the export of these products to customers in global markets.”
Over the past three years, Honda has invested more than $2.7 billion to expand U.S. and North American auto production operations. Today, 95 percent of Hondas and Acuras sold here are built in North America.
At Honda’s two Ohio assembly plants, the automaker built 734,772 vehicles and exported 69,680 of them to more than 40 countries, an increase of 69 percent compared with 2012. It also saw big jumps in exports from vehicles built in Alabama and Indiana.
Honda currently has the capacity to produce 1.72 million vehicles in North America at seven auto plants. Next month, production of the Honda Fit will begin in Celaya, Mexico, which will be Honda’s eighth auto plant in North America, boosting production capacity to 1.92 million units in North America.
“With the new Celaya plant, Honda will have the capability to build virtually every product in its lineup in North America, from sub-compact models to light trucks,” the automaker said.
Honda began automobile exports from the U.S. in 1987. It said U.S. imports have fallen by more than half since 2009, and fell by nearly 50,000 in 2013 over 2012.