Executive Vice President of Honda of America Tom Shoupe speaks to assembled associates at Tuesday’s ceremony at the East Liberty Auto Plant celebrating the first 2019 Acura RDX to roll off the line. The vehicle, according to officials, is exceptionally easy for associates to make.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Will Channell)
When Honda was developing the 2019 Acura RDX, there was something the company had in mind: making a car that was easier to make.
“We had some help, and the help we had was a great design,” said East Liberty Auto Plant Manager Jim Hefner at Tuesday afternoon’s launch ceremony for the vehicle.
Honda associates massed in front of a stage at the East Liberty plant as officials commended them on their roles in the design of the new RDX.
“We’re building a great product,” Hefner said.
One point officials hammered on was the ease with which associates can build the vehicle.
In an interview, Engineering Project Leader Scott Ruhl said the new RDX has components that are simply easier to install. He said components are more ergonomic for associates on the line to handle.
“We find that if it’s easier to produce the car, the quality itself improves as well,” he said.
The changes largely come from feedback from associates regarding changes they would like to see. Ruhl called it their “wish list.”
“We took that, and we worked with R&D, and we were able to incorporate many of their ideas and suggestions into this,” he said.
While Ruhl said that feedback is a normal component of any new model, officials at Thursday’s ceremony emphasized that ease of manufacture.
According to the release, the new RDX is a complete redesign of the vehicle. Manufacturing changes include a new hemming process for the vehicle’s moon roof and new adhesives for its body. The release called both of those additions as, “Manufacturing firsts for a mass-produced Acura model.”
Ruhl said the new model has changes that will be incorporated into future models.
“It’s how we continue to get better as a company,” he said.
Large Project Lead Steve Hanson said the goal from the onset of the project was to design the “best RDX ever.”
Hanson said the new RDX is poised to become a new standard in small luxury SUV market. Officials expressed confidence that the vehicle would prove the highest-selling Acura ever.
The three pillars associates focused on were design, performance and driver experience.
According to a release on Acura’s website, the RDX was introduced in 2006. It’s been made in East Liberty for the entirety of its history.
According to the release, the RDX is the first of its kind to be entirely developed in the U.S. The RDX, like the ILX, TLX, MDX and NSX, is manufactured exclusively in Ohio. Honda’s North American Research and Development team in Raymond developed the vehicle.
“The Acura RDX is launching from a position of strength as the top selling nameplate in the compact luxury SUV segment,” reads the release.
Ruhl said the entire process to make the new RDX was complex, and at the end of the day, it was the associates that made it possible.
“There were so many things going on, that I’d say it was hard for any one to come to mind,” he said. “I just really appreciate the associates’ feedback.”
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