How Honda Canada overcame COVID restrictions to keep 2022 Civic output on track

Canadian production of the 2022 Honda Civic sedan has officially started, after a leadup that saw executives and engineers from Japan and the United States unable to easily enter the country due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The vehicle is built at Honda’s assembly plant in Alliston, Ont., approximately 110 km northwest of Toronto. Honda also builds the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that produces 158HP and 138 lb.-ft. in Alliston.

Honda Canada Manufacturing (HCM) said in a statement that its engineers “took on a larger role in preparing the 2022 Civic sedan for mass production.”

As a result of the restrictions, HMC says that, among other things, it “took leadership in ensuring all tooling met stringent requirements pertaining to quality control and manufacturing.”

The company said all in-house tools involved in stamping and plastics injection — for door skins, hoods, side panel skins, bumpers and instrument panels — were brought in at an earliest stage in order to complete development by HCM associates instead of the originally planned engineers from Japan.

A Honda Canada spokesperson said that production cycle times and quality output, in relation to new vehicle roof equipment, had to be solely completed by HCM engineers.

HCM has been building the Civic sedan continuously for 33 years in Ontario, longer than any other Honda plant in the world currently producing Civic. The vehicle has been the best-selling passenger car in Canada for 23 consecutive years.

The redesigned Honda Civic is getting a more grown-up design and feature set for its 11th generation as it battles to stay relevant amid North America’s crossover surge.

Long popular among younger drivers as easy on the wallet and entertaining on the roadway, the Civic is not taking a radical departure in the new iteration. But it does take a step toward Honda’s more stylish Accord midsize sedan.

Honda says the Civic has been the No. 1 selling model in North America – car or light truck – with first-time buyers, Millennials and Gen Z, since the launch of the 10th-generation model in 2015.

Total Canadian Civic sales fell 20.6 per cent to 6,737 in the first quarter of the year, compared with 2020.

U.S. Civic sales fell 13 per cent in the first quarter. It remained in second place in the compact car segment with 55,903 deliveries, behind the Toyota Corolla.

The 2022 model comes in four trims in Canada: LX, EX, Sport and Touring. The Civic offers an all-digital instrument panel and premium Bose stereo system on the Touring trim,  a sport driving mode on the Touring and Sport trims, and a metal honeycomb accent across the dash as part of a simplified interior design.

Honda says it “stretched the wheelbase and adopted a cleaner, more sophisticated look.”

The Civic is the first of Honda’s redesigned models to feature a simplified interior that minimizes clutter and driver distractions while providing easy access to controls for infotainment, climate and other functions.

On the lower LX, EX and Sport trims, the standard 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine produces the same 158 hp as the outgoing model but comes with a standard idle-stop system and new catalytic converter design to improve fuel efficiency.

The Touring trim comes with a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 180 hp, for a six-hp increase over the outgoing model, Honda said. 

Pricing will be released closer to its sales launch in the summer.

Laurence Iliff of Automotive News contributed to this report.

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