Honda will move production of two bigger models from Canada to Alabama to meet growing US demand for small cars while maintaining North American jobs, its chief executive Takeo Fukui said on Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, he said the Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pickup, now made in Alliston, Ontario, will be produced in Lincoln, Alabama, allowing Civic sedan output to be boosted in Canada.

“Gas prices continue to rise, and the demand for cars with good mileage is growing,” Fukui told the news agency in Tokyo. “Efforts are under way to increase the local production of the Civic.”

AP noted that even the usually booming Japanese automakers are feeling the pinch from the US economic slowdown and soaring material costs, including steel, but are holding up better than American rivals because of their reputation for selling fuel-efficient vehicles.

The Associated Press noted that Honda’s production changes won’t create – or cut – any jobs in North America though Fukui noted it would maintain sales momentum.

AP added that Honda would create about 2,000 more American jobs when a plant (the automaker’s seventh in North America)opens to build Civics in Indiana later this year.

Fukui told AP the Fit (aka Jazz) subcompact is another model that is emerging as a hit in the US, a nation previously known to favour ‘gas-guzzlers’.