Plenty of auto manufacturers are known for high-tech factories that make halo cars. But usually those facilities are in Europe, like Bugatti’s sparkling white plant in France or McLaren’s incredible speed laboratory in England. Acura would like you to change your thinking here, one of the most advanced car factories in the world can be found in America’s heartland.
(Full Disclosure: Acura recently invited Jalopnik to Ohio check out their full lineup, with a focus on the updated 2019 ILX and NSX models, but wanted to take us on a special tour of the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio. I also used to own a 1992 NSX ages ago, and worked for Acura from 2002 until 2005, when I worked in dealer operations in sales and fixed operations leadership.)
From 1990 until 2005, Acura produced the NSX in their obsessively clean and meticulously operated factory in Takanezawa, in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan.
With the introduction of the 2017 NSX, Acura wanted to shift focus to the talent responsible for nearly all of the lineup’s cars — only the RLX is built in Japan — to show off how worthy its work is by building the NSX in Ohio.
I went there and had a look, and walked away in awe.
Exotic Car Plants Have To Be Special
There are plenty who will say there has been another supercar factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky since 1981, but that place is just another GM plant, filled with robots and assisted machinery. It just happens to be the place where Chevrolet makes the Corvette. (We’ll know more about whether we can add it to the supercar list when the mid-engine Corvette drops.)
The Performance Manufacturing Center is different. The Marysville, Ohio plant is purpose built for the NSX, and inside it looks the part for an exotic car. When you first walk in, you notice it’s one giant open room, and that there are no assembly lines and very few robots.
Instead the cars move from station to station on carts, and that people do the vast majority of the work by hand. Everything is white, including the staff’s clothing, and the lighting is supplied by clean LEDs. It’s all very clinical.
Employees go through a rigorous selection process, including written exams and interviews, to prove that they’re above the usual cut of factory workers. Just over 100 technicians work inside the PMC, and do so in four 10-hour shifts.
This schedule and setup is first for Honda or Acura. The plant seems rather productive considering how much work is done by hand, with a capacity to build between six and eight cars a day. Acura’s NSX GT3 cars are also produced in this plant, right alongside the road cars.