Honda’s newest car plant in the US, in Greensburg, Indiana, has begun exporting Civic sedans to Mexico less than a year after opening.

The plant, inaugurated in November 2008, builds Civic four-door sedans and is now the sole global source of the natural gas-powered version sold primarily in the US. Facilities include metal stamping and plastic injection moulding as well as painting and assembly. Engines come from a plant in Anna, Ohio.

The first export Civics were shipped last week. The plant has so far built around 50,000 cars for sale in the US.

“The United States remains the primary market for our Indiana-built Civics,” said Honda Manufacturing of Indiana vice president Rick Schostek, “Manufacturing products for export broadens the experiences of our [workers], contributes positively to America’s and Indiana’s international trade, and shows our commitment to the continued growth and evolution of our business in Indiana.”

Honda’s first US vehicle plant opened in Marysville, Ohio, in 1979 to build Gold Wing motorcycles which were soon exported globally. The first Accord exports left the adjacent Marysville autos plant (opened in 1982) for Taiwan in 1987 and first shipments to Japan followed in 1988.

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Honda has now exported over 3m cars, light trucks, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and power products from the US.

“We are proud of our Indiana workforce,” Schostek said. “Our Greensburg plant has ramped up to full single-shift production, and now we have embarked on production for export. This is another step in our growth.”

In addition to Mexico, the Greensburg plant will build vehicles for sale throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the US territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and Saipan.

Greensburg was the seventh car assembly plant Honda opened in North America and is one of 16 major manufacturing facilities the automaker has there, including two under construction in North Carolina.

US operations began in 1959 with the establishment of American Honda Motor, the company’s first overseas subsidiary, in a small showroom on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.

Cumulative output of Honda and Acura automobiles in North America passed the 20m mark in February 2009 and the 15m mark in the US alone in May.

The Canadian assembly plant is in Alliston, Ontario.