Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. President and CEO Takeo Fukui helped Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC (HMA) have dedicated the production startup of Honda’s new assembly line in Lincoln and the production of the first Alabama-built Honda Pilot sport utility vehicle.

Honda says that customer demand for Honda’s light truck products remains strong as Honda’s line-up of light truck vehicles continues to grow. Honda began mass production of the Pilot on April 27, just 17 months after HMA began construction of the 1.3 million-square-foot expansion of the Alabama facility, which is also home to Honda’s popular Odyssey minivan.

Fukui noted that HMA is building on a foundation that began in 1979 with Honda’s first U.S. production facility. “Twenty-five years ago, we planted a seed in Ohio. Today, several beautiful trees grow in Alabama,” said Fukui, Honda’s global CEO. “The associates at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama have quickly become a key part of our ability to meet the needs of our customers in North America.”

The start-up of HMA’s second assembly line boosts Honda’s capital investment in Alabama to more than $1 billion and to more than $8 billion in North America. It also increases HMA’s combined annual production capacity to 300,000 vehicles.

“Today, we continue to build on the success we have achieved in Alabama with the start of mass production on our second assembly line by a growing team of enthusiastic and capable associates,” said Masaaki Kato, president and CEO of HMA. “I am extremely proud of our associates in achieving the start of Pilot mass production and maintaining a focus on our customers to meet demand for Honda products.”