Throughout much of the third-generation Honda Pilot’s tenure, U.S. sales have not measured up to the success of the previous-generation model, though not for lack of demand.
In a market gone mad for SUVs and crossovers, three other vehicles have constrained production of the Pilot in Lincoln, Alabama. In addition to the Pilot, American Honda builds the Honda Odyssey in Lincoln, along with the Acura MDX. The second-generation Ridgeline started rolling off the Alabama line in May 2016.
As a result, Honda dealers have had a difficult time getting their hands on enough Pilots to sate the predictably high level of interest in a respected three-row crossover nameplate. Heading into December, for instance, Honda only had 36 days of Pilot supply according to Automotive News, about half the current industry average.
But with an all-new 2018 Odyssey about to pick up steam and the Ridgeline reaching a second-gen high of 4,085 sales in December, the Pilot needs room to breathe.
We already knew Honda was moving some Acura MDX production to the East Liberty, Ohio, facility where it assembles the Honda CR-V and Acura RDX.
Anticipating the potential for light-truck growth at both the Honda and Acura brands, American Honda executive vice president John Mendel said nearly two years ago moving some MDX production to Ohio would “further advance our flexibility in North America to meet future demand.”
Apparently not to a sufficient degree. Before the partial MDX shift to Ohio was even planned to begin this spring, American Honda has now decided Acura MDX production — in whole — will be shifted to the East Liberty plant, the Columbus Business First’s Dan Eaton reports.
Presumably the Honda Crosstour’s absence creates some extra space. (Did you even take time to mourn its loss?)
The original plan to move some MDX production to Ohio required an $85 million investment in the East Liberty plant. American Honda began activity in East Liberty in 1989 and has, at one time or another, assembled Accords, Civics, Crosstours, CR-Vs, Elements, RDXs, and Acura CL coupes. In its first and second-gen iterations, Honda assembled the Acura MDX in Alliston, Ontario.
In 2016, calendar year U.S. sales of the Acura MDX slid to a three-year low. Meanwhile, MDX sales jumped 7 percent in the second-half of 2016 as the refreshed 2017 Acura MDX became steadily more available in recent months.