GREENSBURG, Ind. — Honda said Tuesday it will add 1,000 jobs at its southeastern Indiana plant by the end of the year by adding a second shift.
Greensburg plant spokeswoman Anita Sipes said the factory's workforce will double with the new shift. She said employees were told about the plans last week.
Sipes says the company planned to add a second shift since the factory opened in 2008 but that those plans were delayed because of the economic downturn, according to The Indianapolis Star, which first reported the factory's plans.
"We were waiting for the economy to rebound, so this seemed like a natural time," she told The Associated Press.
The March 11 tsunami that struck Japan and the widespread power outages that followed interrupted the flow of auto parts to Honda's U.S. plants. Last month, Honda cut production to about half the normal level because of falling parts supplies. It warned dealers of model shortages and said full production might not resume until the end of the year.
But Honda said last week that the situation in Japan is improving, and plants could ramp up production on a plant-by-plant basis, except for those that make the new Civic compact. Sipes said the Greensburg plant hopes to begin increasing production this fall.
"With everything that happened in Japan with the earthquake, we need to be ready to meet customer demand," she told the Indianapolis Business Journal.
The plant has been operating at half-capacity for a few months, Sipes said. She said the plant should be operating at full capacity by the end of the year.
Honda currently can produce about 100,000 cars per year at the Greensburg plant. Sipes said the second shift will double that capacity to 200,000 vehicles per year.
The plant makes the Honda Civic sedan and the Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle. Civics are also made at plants in Ohio and Ontario. Demand has been rising for the Civic and other small cars as gas prices hit $4 per gallon in the U.S "We're very, very glad to see things are going well with Honda, and possibly better than expected, with the tragedy that occurred in Japan," Marc Coplon, Decatur County director of economic development, told the IBJ.
Indiana University economist Bill Witte said the new jobs were a sign the economy was growing, though not rapidly.
"It gives me a little bit more confidence that we're going to see adequate growth going ahead," he said. "The fact that an automaker is willing to crank up production suggests that they think the consumer hasn't crawled into their shell completely."