Honda North America marked its 30th anniversary of US vehicle production by announcing US$200m in new investments in its Russells Point, Ohio, transmission plant and Anna, Ohio, engine plant, which will add 200 new manufacturing jobs.

This takes cumulative investments to over $1.2bn in US manufacturing operations in the last two years and the overall total to $12.5bn.

On 1 November, 1982, Honda became the first Japanese automaker to produce cars in America (using domestic and globally sourced parts) when the first Accord rolled off the assembly line at the Marysville, Ohio, car plant. The automaker had begun Gold Wing touring motorcycle output in the US in 1979.

It now builds cars, engines and transmissions in North America at seven vehicle plants, three vehicle engine plants and two transmission plants, with capacity of 1.63m cars and trucks per year. By 2014, when production of sub-compact vehicles at the eighth North American car plant, now under construction in Mexico starts, North American capacity will be 1.92m units.

The company now employs 26,000 people and operates nine major manufacturing plants and 15 R&D facilities in the US.

“Honda’s US responsibilities have matured into global capabilities for manufacturing, R&D and engineering,” said Rick Schostek, senior vice president, Honda of America Mfg.

North American units will take on new responsibilities for the mass production launch of global models. Workers in North America will help set the standards for production processes for key global products that also are made in other regions and then share their knowledge and expertise to support plants all around the globe.

Honda also will increase exports from North America. Later this year, it will reach the 1m mark in total automobile exports from the US. Honda also is increasing its export of major auto parts by almost 70% this year to assembly plants in South America, Europe and Asia. This will be a substantial increase in business for North American suppliers that will grow in future.

Honda works with 500 US OEM parts and materials suppliers, and purchased $14.4bn in OEM parts and materials from them in 2011. It has over 600 parts suppliers in North America with purchases expected to exceed $20bn this year.

The first Japanese car built in America – a silver-gray 1983 model year Accord bearing Ohio license plate USA 001 – is on display at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.