Honda rolls out first Acura NSX supercar in Ohio factory – USA TODAY

MARYSVILLE, Ohio — Workers cheered as the  first 2017 Acura NSX — a highly anticipated supercar that is expected to boost sales of Honda’s premium brand — came off the assembly line at a plant here Tuesday.

The event comes more than four years after Honda began preparing to build the car in Ohio and, Honda executives say, represents  the pinnacle of Honda’s manufacturing expertise and a new emphasis on performance and design for the Acura brand. Honda is counting on the NSX — a sports car that will retail for $156,000 — to inject enthusiasm into its premium brand that arguably lost its way over the years as sales of Toyota’s rival Lexus brand left Acura behind.​

Auto dealer and NASCAR racing team owner Rick Hendrick, who purchased the first NSX for $1.2 million, predicted  the NSX will be a huge hit.

“This is a halo piece … it’s going to draw customers into our (Acura) stores that we would never see,” Hendrick said. “You have built one of the finest automobiles I have ever seen in my life.”

Hendrick, who owns 143 franchises, said he was equally impressed with the spirit of teamwork among the 106 workers at the plant where the NSX is built.

“The most amazing thing that I saw today were the smiles on everybody’s face when I walked through the plant,” Hendrick said. “You’ve got something special here. You have a culture — you can’t buy culture and you sure can’t buy the enthusiasm that you have.”

Hendrick, who also is a car collector, won the rights to the first NSX in an auction in January when he bid $1.2 million for the vehicle. The proceeds will be donated to charity.

Before Hendrick spoke, workers gave Clement D’Souza, the engineering leader for the NSX, a standing ovation.

“I was already nervous,” D’Souza said as he recalled the work it took to design the NSX and construct the plant.

D’Souza said Honda’s decision to build the NSX in Ohio, rather than in Japan, demonstrates the automaker’s trust in the local workforce and the engineering capabilities developed since Honda began building cars in the U.S. in the early 1980s.

Acura engineers are building the long-awaited NSX at Honda’s 206,000-square-foot Performance Manufacturing Center — a low-volume manufacturing plant that is designed to  build Honda’s top-performing car and to be a test-bed of high-tech manufacturing processes for the automaker.

Honda spent more than $70 million to transform a former logistics center into the new plant.

“This shows how strong Ohio is in manufacturing. It’s alive and well and better than ever,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

Acura aficionados have been waiting several years for the NSX. Honda revealed a concept version at the Detroit auto show in 2012 and revealed the production version at the 2015 Detroit auto show.

The 2017 NSX is equipped with a twin-turbocharged, rear-mounted V6 gasoline engine with a 9-speed transmission and electric motors in the front that power the front wheels.

Tuesday afternoon, workers at the plant began building additional production versions of the 573-horsepower car. The cars will then make their way to dealerships where customers, who began ordering the car in February, will be able to pick them up.

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