Associates at multiple Honda plants in North America celebrated Tuesday as mass production of the all-new 2023 Honda CR-V hybrid began at Honda of Canada Mfg. (HCM), featuring a new two-motor hybrid system produced at Honda’s Ohio Transmission Plant (TMP-O) in Russells Point, and a newly refined Atkinson-cycle engine unique to hybrid models that is made at the Anna Engine Plant (AEP).
The Indiana Auto Plant (IAP) and the East Liberty Auto Plant (ELP) in Ohio, which produced the previous CR-V Hybrid, will begin production of the 2023 CR-V hybrid in the coming months. HCM is the global lead plant for CR-V hybrid production, the first time a hybrid has been built in Canada.
Representing a key step in Honda’s electrification strategy, starting with the 2023 model year, about 50% of CR-V’s annual sales in the U.S. will be powered by Honda’s new, more powerful fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system.
“Knowing the importance CR-V hybrid is set to play to our overall electrification strategy, this is a proud moment for the Honda of Canada Mfg. team as we lead the start of global production of CR-V hybrid,” said Clement D’Souza, senior vice president of HCM.
The all-new 2023 Honda CR-V Sport and Sport Touring trims come standard with the new hybrid system featuring the more refined 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and Honda’s new fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system, featuring a pair of electric motors now arranged side-by-side in a parallel axis layout.
Perfect for daily life or weekend escapes, the new CR-V is longer and wider with premium proportions and a significantly broader stance, further advancing the Honda rugged design direction for light trucks with a low horizontal beltline and a long, powerful front end. Honda’s most popular SUV backs up its strong new looks with a more fun-to-drive personality, more confident and refined dynamics, and increased torque and capability. For product details, please click here.
New Hybrid-Electric Powertrain Made in Ohio
All three plants producing CR-V in North America, HCM, IAP, and ELP, worked in close collaboration with the Anna Engine Plant (AEP) and the Honda Transmission Plant in Ohio (TMP-O), which are responsible for the all-new powertrain for the latest Honda electrified vehicle.
With the sales plan of the new CR-V and Accord hybrid trims expected to represent about 50% of the sales mix of each model, and three different Honda plants in North America producing the new CR-V hybrid models, both AEP and TMP-O were required to dramatically increase production volume for the new engine and hybrid system. For AEP, this increase included more in-house production of engine components and an increase in local sourcing for parts previously supplied from Japan. For example, AEP is now producing the camshaft for the engine in-house, requiring new equipment and a higher number of processes for associates. TMP-O associates will be increasing the production volume of the two-motor system by 300% (from 500 to 1500 units per day) within just the first two to three months.
“AEP associates have always supported the evolution of our business and we are proud to be the sole provider of this engine to all three of our North American CR-V frame plants,” said AEP plant lead Rick Riggle. “The team has worked hard to prepare manufacturing lines across casting, machining, and assembly operations. This is an important step toward electrification for our company and our associates will be ready to meet the challenge.”
The 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine built at AEP is the first Honda engine to combine high-pressure direct injection with multistage injection for an extremely homogeneous mixture that delivers clean combustion. To control high exhaust gas temperatures, the cylinder head uses a new two-piece water jacket, new gas-cooling exhaust ports, and a large capacity cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve to bring exhaust gases from the exhaust system back into the chamber to reduce emissions.
- Largest-ever cylinder head: The cylinder head is the largest that associates at AEP have ever produced and required modifications to the cylinder head casting area. The cylinder head casting department implemented a unique sand core mold designed by the production engineering team to accommodate the new EGR valve and enhance productivity for cylinder head production.
- New sound insulation: The engine also features a more rigid crankshaft and secondary balancer to reduce vibration and an all-urethane engine cover, a first for Honda. Honda associates at AEP apply new lightweight fiber-foam insulators, that are highly resistant to heat and vibration, directly on the engine in three different places, creating a quieter and more comfortable ride.
The fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system made at TMP-O features a new arrangement, switching from coaxial motors of the same size stacked on top of each other to a two-motor parallel axis system with engines of different sizes mounted side-by-side. The new system also includes new high- and low-speed lockup ratios for direct engine drive on the highway and in the city. Altogether, the new design improves responsiveness for a sportier driving feel and creates a more relaxed driving environment at highway speeds. It also allows for a higher sustained top speed, improves fuel economy, and enables up to 1,000 pounds of towing.
“TMP-O associates are proud and excited to provide next-generation components for the 2023 CR-V hybrid,” said TMP-O plant lead Gerald Bruch. “We are fully committed to our electrified future, and this is the first of many steps our associates will take in helping Honda achieve its goals for a carbon-neutral future.”
- Lead plant role increases local parts sourcing: TMP-O is the lead plant for the production of the new two-motor system in North America. Combined with the higher volume production to meet Honda’s hybrid sales strategy, TMP-O associates were challenged with an increased number of parts – more than double the previous system – that had to be matured for mass production. The new system has more than 80 new parts being sourced from local suppliers, compared to just over 20 parts with the outgoing system.
- Advanced manufacturing technology: Smart automation was employed in several locations to minimize the number of machines TMP-O added to produce the new system, boosting efficiency and reducing the need for additional space and investment. For example, the TMP-O machining department worked to commonize features and minimize the need for exclusive tooling. The assembly team then worked to apply flexible automation utilizing common robots that can quickly change end-of-the-arm tooling when running different models. This was a unique approach from what Honda plants in Japan and China pursued and paid off with increased flexibility and efficiency and more efficient use of floor space within the Ohio facility.
- Juggling responsibilities: While installing new equipment and processes for the fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system, TMP-O also had to continue production of the third-generation two-motor system on the same manufacturing lines to meet the demand for the record sales of the current CR-V and Accord hybrid models. Key strategies included adopting sub-assembly lines for the new shaft in order to keep the main assembly line processes the same, even with different and larger parts. TMP-O associates also worked to reduce the length of time required for line modifications by one and a half months to enable the team to start production trials earlier and continue production of the prior generation two-motor unit.
On Wednesday, associates at Honda’s East Liberty Auto Plant (ELP) celebrated the start of mass production of the all-new 2023 Honda CR-V. The first Honda plant in North America to produce CR-V in 2006, ELP has produced nearly two million CR-Vs, helping fuel its standing as America’s best-selling crossover of the past quarter century.
ELP will begin production of the CR-V hybrid model in the coming weeks, as sales of the hybrid model will represent up to 50% of CR-V annual sales, a key step in Honda’s overall electrification strategy.
“Our entire team at the East Liberty Auto Plant has responded to every challenge to launch the all-new 2023 Honda CR-V and our associates are proud to deliver another CR-V for our customers,” said ELP Plant Lead Keith Strickland. “CR-V has become a cornerstone of our success at ELP, and we’re confident the 2023 CR-V will continue to build on that legacy.”
The all-new 2023 Honda CR-V features a rugged yet sophisticated design, with two turbocharged trim levels, and four trim levels: EX and EX-L and the hybrid-electric powered Sport and Sport Touring trims. The 6th generation CR-V went into production last month at Honda of Canada Manufacturing (HCM), followed by the Indiana Auto Plant on October 18.
Perfect for daily life or weekend escapes, the new CR-V is longer and wider with premium proportions and a significantly broader stance, further advancing the new Honda design direction with a low horizontal beltline and a long, powerful front end. Honda’s most popular SUV backs up its strong new looks with a fun-to-drive personality, more confident and refined dynamics, and increased torque and capability.
Manufacturing the 2023 Honda CR-V
ELP associates worked closely with their counterparts at IAP and HCM to implement new technologies and processes for the 2023 Honda CR-V to deliver an innovative and consistently high-quality product for Honda customers in North America.
- ELP is employing a “perfect body” fixture as part of the effort to achieve optimal fit and finish using a data-driven process rather than trial and error. ELP was the first Honda plant to employ this approach in 2017, and associates used this full-size mock-up of the CR-V body milled from a single piece of steel to help mature the fit of interior parts and components, as well as the tailgate. Time is critical during the trial production stage and, in the past, the team would need to tear apart a trial unit to diagnose fit and finish issues. The perfect fixture enables the team to quickly apply countermeasures on the main assembly line.
- A larger hood is a key element of the bold styling that fulfills Honda’s rugged direction for the brand’s light truck line-up. To deliver this hood design in a mass production environment, Honda production engineers worked with the development team to increase rigidity by increasing the thickness of the steel sheet and adjusting the hood frame so that it could be handled through the stamping and weld departments. The result is a hood that delivers on the bold and sophisticated design direction.
- The new CR-V is dramatically increasing the use of high-performance structural adhesive for increased body rigidity and is newly applying acoustic spray foam to the body structure for enhanced cabin quietness. The result is a new CR-V with increased dynamic rigidity and a quieter ride.
- With the R&D team in Japan, the initial prototype build for CR-V would typically take place there, but with development taking place during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions were in place. Since the North American production teams could not travel to Japan, they utilized video tools to document trial production activities in each plant and collaborate remotely, sharing learnings that led to changes to design and processes that now make it easier for Honda production associates to build CR-V to a high level of quality.