Worlers  at Honda’s Indiana Auto Plant (IAP) have celebrated the start of mass production of the redesigned 2022 Civic hatchback at Greensburg.

Honda has built Civics in America since 1986 – sedans and coupes – but this is the first time the hatchback has been built in the US.

A US$50.2m spend helped prepare the factory for this body style with a building expansion for laser braze technology for the roof. Other new processes include a major increase in the use of high-performance structural adhesives for improved body rigidity and the application of acoustic spray foam for the first time for enhanced cabin quietness.

IAP built its first Civic in October 2008 and also was the first Honda plant in the US to build the Acura ILX (2012), Honda Insight (2019) and CR-V Hybrid (2020).

Reintroduced to the US market with the 10th generation Civic in 2016, the hatchback has grown to account for a fifth of the model line’s sales.

The 2022 version offers an upgraded six-speed manual transmission with both naturally aspirated two-litre and 1.5-litre turbocharged engines.

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IAP is one of only two Honda plants currently producing the hatchback.

Several IAP workers were in Japan for up to two years to collaborate with the R&D team and manufacturing workers from around the world who will build the Civic. This collaboration helped lead to changes in design and processes to make it easier to build the model and achieve a high level of quality.

A new, lightweight, composite (resin) hatch replaces the previous steel structure, which contributes to a more coupe-like design and high fuel economy. IAP workers used virtual training to develop the processes required to install the new hatchback, including a lift assist device to improve associate ergonomics when putting the tailgate in place.

Staff also worked closely with Honda R&D to develop the strategy for application of structural adhesive to the body to create the most rigid body ever for a Civic hatchback. The adhesive enhances safety and dynamic performance, reduces weight for fuel efficiency and increases cabin comfort. The process required installation of nine new robots to apply the adhesive.

The laser brazed roof, another new technique, uses dual beam technology to join the roof to the body side panels for a seamless exterior appearance and stronger vehicle body.

IAP is applying spray foam to hollow portions of the vehicle’s body structure for the first time to reduce noise transmission for a quieter cabin. Workers studied the new hatchback design to identify where and how to apply the foam, resulting in the addition of new equipment and a critical change in the tailgate area to ensure high quality.

Honda’s Anna Engine Plant in Ohio builds the 1.5-litre turbo I4 engine while a Canadian factory produces the two-litre.

IAP began operations in October 2008 and is one of five Honda auto plants in the US and one of 12 major manufacturing facilities operating in America.

Employing 2,700, it can produce 250,000 Honda cars and light trucks annually. It makes Honda’s top-selling US model, the CR-V SUV, along with the hybrid Insight sedan. It has built 2m vehicles so far after capital investment of $1.2bn at the 2.4m square foot facility.