Acura Moving All MDX Production To Ohio; Maybe Now Honda Dealers Will Be Able To Stock Pilots

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

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.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Onyxtape Onyxtape on Jan 11, 2017

    I'm guessing that a big part of the reason may also be quality control. The MDXes coming out of the Alabama plant have crooked body panels as a matter of course, along with a few other common assembly issues. I heard the East Liberty plant has a much higher quality rating.

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    • Joeaverage Joeaverage on May 21, 2017

      @EX35 Sounds like a question of training and inspection to me. If someone can't or won't do a quality job, then give them a different job or send them home. If necessary, adapt the tooling or inspection devices to ensure everything fits and gets inspected - twice if necessary. I have a 2014 MDX (45K miles) and have seen zero quality issues with it. Everything fits, everything works and we're extremely happy with it. Hopefully it delivers 300K+ mostly trouble-free miles like our CRV did. This is a tough group of customers to sell to. While they just spent $50K-$60K on an SUV, some customers have VERY high expectations and potentially a limited understanding about the engineering behind the vehicle they drive. All they know is it doesn't do what they THINK it is supposed to do. Some place huge weight on tiny details unrelated to actually driving the vehicle.

  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Jan 11, 2017

    This game of musical chairs makes sense. Now Alabama will have more capacity to build the still-supply-constrained Pilot and the new Odyssey.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.
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