By adding 300 new jobs in Ohio and investing a further $267 million into the production of the 2018 Accord sedan, Honda is hoping to own a larger chunk of the shrinking mid-size sedan market.
In the first nine months of 2017, the segment has shrunk by 15% compared to last year, with every model in the category experiencing fewer sales, most of them by double digit figures, reports Autonews.
"I'm not sure that the sedan segment in the U.S. will ever be as larger as it was 10 years ago," said Mike Ramsey, a research director at Gartner. "Even if we settle out at 16 million [SAAR], the percentage going to sedans is likely to keep flat or decline."
As for the previously-mentioned investment, the bulk of it was for the automaker's Marysville plant in Ohio, where Honda builds the Accord as well as the Acura TLX and ILX models.
Also, since Honda dropped the coupe body style of this 10th-generation Accord, the Japanese automaker had to expand the plant's rear door-line capabilities. Speaking of such details, Honda is now using a new laser brazing process on the 2018 Accord, joining the roof to the body side panels in a more efficient way - thus eliminating those black plastic garnishes that many sedans use to cover the rain channels.
Still, if sedan segment sales suddenly start plummeting, it appears that Honda's investments in the 2018 Accord won't be for nothing, says Steve Rodriguez, manufacturing manager for the model.
"Flexibility is kind of a hallmark - it's our responsibility to make sure going forward that we are flexible to be able to move models," (to different assembly lines). "Without looking into a crystal ball, we're always trying to get more flexible so when changes come, we're in a better position for them."
As the segment continues to decline, models like the Accord and the Toyota Camry could be well-positioned to take advantage of any leftovers if or when rival automakers decide to leave the segment altogether in order to focus on SUVs and crossovers.
"Maybe they figure, 'Well, the segment will get smaller and we'll take a bigger share of it," concluded Ramsey. "Honda has been successful with that in the past."