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Honda Motor Co. will spend $84 million and hire 100 more workers to expand production of light trucks and engines at its assembly plant in Alabama.

The investment will boost annual capacity for the Lincoln, Alabama, plant to 340,000 vehicles and engines by 2013 from 300,000 now, Honda said in a statement on its website late Monday. The plant employs more than 4,000 people.

Asian automakers including Honda are expanding output capacity in North America as U.S. sales recover from a recession in 2008 and 2009. Demand for new cars and trucks grew 10 percent this year through October, and most companies and analysts are forecasting total sales of 12.5 million to 13 million vehicles in 2011.

“We’re confident in our associates’ ability to build the products Americans want,” Detroit-based Honda spokesman Ed Miller said.

The Alabama plant, which opened in 2001, makes Odyssey minivans, Pilot sport utility vehicles and Ridgeline pickups, and the six-cylinder engines they use. The investment is part of Honda’s plan to shift production of Acura MDX luxury SUVs to the factory, Honda said.

Dec. 1 output stability

KYODO

Honda Motor Co. said Tuesday it will normalize automobile production at six factories in Canada and the United States on Dec. 1 and 2 after curbing their operations since early November due to parts supply chain disruptions induced by the flood in Thailand.

This may mean that bright spots will begin to appear in the North American operations of Japanese automakers, as Toyota Motor Corp. ended a Thai flood-induced output reduction in North America from this week, industry observers said.

Honda said in a statement it will decide what to do regarding the North American operations from Dec. 3 “after examining” developments relating to its Thai suppliers’ situation.

The automaker still faces the possibility that supply disruptions will force it to curb North American operations for a long period after the provisional resumption in early December, observers say.

Honda began halving output at its six North American plants in early November due to disruptions in the supply of key electronics components.

Production at the plants has since remained disrupted, although the automaker later increased output at some plants.

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