Where the 2017 Acura NSX Comes From: Ohio's Performance Manufacturing Center
Marysville, Ohio just doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way Maranello, Italy does, but it’s a town worth remembering for the fact that it produces the latest high performance 2-seater in the form of the 2017 Acura NSX. Why Honda would choose to Ohio to build its world-beater is not so much a mystery. Not only has Honda built more than half the Acuras it has ever produced in Ohio, the plant is less than an hour from Columbus, Ohio making it far more accessible to the public that the previous home of the NSX in Tochigi, Japan.
The Performance Manufacturing Center is more than making sports cars. It’s about building morale among Honda’s Ohio workforce by locating production of its Acura flagship here. And it gives the company an opportunity to showcase the facility and the brand through customer tours first and later, the general public.
Quality is the key
Initial production volume for the NSX is pegged at about 800 units with daily output amounting to 8 to 10 vehicles. Like other exotics, the assembly facility is akin to a cross between a race shop and traditional assembly line. Where it differs from other factories like Ferrari or Aston Martin is the focus it places on both quality and the paint operation.
At the center of plant behind glass walls is the quality control center, visible to all who work in the plant. In this area, critical dimensions of the space frame, exterior panel fit and the cabin are taken to ensure each car is as precisely assembled as the car in front and behind it on the line. The fact that this area takes center stage is meant as a statement of quality and reliability being a cornerstone of all Honda and Acura products. Likewise, the paint booth, which in most plants is walled off also has glass so that everyone can watch the 11-coat spray process. Robots deliver batch mixed paint to the body panels and space frames. Behind the spray booth are the long dip tanks for E-coating and zirconium etching surfaces to receive the primer and paint—an operation that also is easily seen behind glass walls.
What not to expect
When touring the Performance Manufacturing Center, don’t expect to see as vertically integrated process as you may find at other high end sports car manufacturers. The hand assembled powertrains for the NSX are actually built at Honda’s Anna, Ohio, engine plant, which is about an hour away from Marysville. Also, components like leather covered seats, or dash assemblies are built of up elsewhere.
However, there is an interesting blend of high tech robots, particularly in the area where the aluminum space frames are welded together, and handwork when it comes to applying sealant and putting together major components. All bolts are started by hand and then tightened by a digital, carbon fiber wrench that not only delivers the correct amount of torque, but also records the value.
More quality checks
Once the NSX is assembled, it goes up on a rack for a 45-minute inspection and adjustment process to align the wheels for camber, caster and toe-in and to check other critical dimensions underneath the car. It is then run on the dyno to check the powertrain and brakes and then into a series of booths to check the paint and for water leaks. The engine itself is broken in on a dyno at the Anna engine plant where it is run for the equivalent of 150 miles, so that the car is track ready when it leaves the factory.
“All of the innovative thinking and hard work that has gone into the creation of this state-of-the-art manufacturing facility has fulfilled our goal to build a supercar in America,” said Clement D’Souza, engineering project leader at PMC. “The incredible passion and challenging spirit of our highly skilled associates enabled us to develop and build a new supercar factory from the ground up simultaneously with the ground up creation of an incredible new supercar in the Acura NSX.”