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Honda marks 35 years of producing power equipment products in America; announces new mower

On Aug. 6, Honda Power Equipment Mfg., Inc. (HPE) marked 35 years of producing power equipment products in America with a celebratory event at the company’s Swepsonville, N.C., manufacturing facility. As part of the event, HPE announced a $46.4 million investment to expand the plant’s manufacturing capabilities, and also unveiled the all-new Honda HRN lawn mower.

(Left to Right) Shane McCoy, senior vice president, Honda Power Equipment Mfg.; Takayoshi Fukai, president, Honda Power Equipment Mfg.; Bill Bezilla, chief engineer and Honda Power Equipment Division director, Honda R&D Americas; and William Walton, vice president, American Honda Motor Co. pose with the first lawnmower produced at Honda Power Equipment Mfg. (L) in 1984 and the all new HRN lawnmower following its unveiling at the event in Swepsonville, N.C., Aug. 6. Photo by John Kmitta.

“For more than 35 years, Honda associates in North Carolina have made high quality power equipment products that help make people’s lives better,” said Shane McCoy, senior vice president at HPE. “Our decision to invest in Honda’s Swepsonville plant fulfills Honda’s longstanding approach to build products close to the customer and demonstrates our strong commitment to North Carolina.”  

The Swepsonville facility employs more than 1,100 associates – many of whom were on hand for the anniversary celebration, as Honda leadership shared insight into the milestone and unveiled the new HRN. 

The expansion strengthens HPE’s production technologies in the North Carolina plant and includes a production line for the new Honda GCV general-purpose engine and a 135,000 square feet plant expansion for parts storage. The plant has the capacity to produce 2 million general-purpose engines per year, including the GCV engine, which is designed specifically for premium, residential power equipment applications.

Honda Power Equipment Mfg., Inc. (HPE) has been producing power equipment products at its Swepsonville, N.C., manufacturing facility for 35 years. Photo by John Kmitta.

In addition to the investment and expansion announced Aug. 6, HPE invested $10.5 million in a 116,000-square-foot plant expansion (announced in February 2018), which now supports assembly and parts storage operations. Once all renovation is completed, this area will house the new engine line. Honda has invested a total of $350 million in the North Carolina facility.

HPE is one of Honda’s highest producing plants in the world with the annual capacity to produce more than two million Honda general-purpose engines and 500,000 finished products, including Honda lawn mowers, snow throwers, string trimmers, mini-tillers and generators.

HPE began production of lawn mowers in 1984, as the third Honda manufacturing plant in America, with cumulative production now topping 38 million products for Honda customers in the U.S. and around the world.

Many Honda Power Equipment products, including the new HRN lawn mower, are developed by the Honda R&D Americas, Inc. Power Equipment Division at its North Carolina Center, located adjacent to Honda Power Equipment Manufacturing in Haw River, N.C.

To commemorate the 35th anniversary milestone, HPE made contributions to local community organizations, demonstrating its continued commitment to Alamance County. HPE donated $2,500 to the Alamance-Burlington School System and provided Honda EG2800i OFI generators to fire departments in Swepsonville, Mebane and Haw River and the Piedmont Triad chapter of the American Red Cross.

Honda HRN Series

Shane McCoy, senior vice president, Honda Power Equipment Mfg., introduces the new Honda HRN to Honda associates, members of the media, and local dignitaries during the 35th anniversary event Aug. 6. Photo by John Kmitta.

Replacing the popular Honda HRR Series, the new HRN lawn mower offers a powerful new Honda GCV170 engine and added features that that optimize grass cutting while streamlining operation and maintenance. The HRN Series of lawn mowers was designed from the ground up and tested at Honda Research and Development Americas, Inc. (HRA). The new models will be produced at the nearby HPE manufacturing facility. 

The HRN Series of lawn mowers features four major areas of innovation:  more power and torque, a rugged design, intuitive controls, and easier operation and serviceability than the HRR models they replace.

“Regardless of how popular or award-winning our outdoor power products are, Honda product development teams continuously pursue innovations that elevate each product for maximum performance and ease of operation for consumers,” said Will Walton, vice president, Honda Power Equipment. “The all new Honda HRN lawn mowers offer a powerful new engine, updated design and technologically advanced features that provide an easy, comfortable mowing experience and the smooth, groomed finish lawn enthusiasts aspire to. The new models are one illustration of how we at Honda Power Equipment are contributing to the Honda Vision for 2030 — growth through the pursuit of quality and serving people worldwide with the joy of expanding the potential of lives.”

The heart of the Honda HRN Series is the all-new easy-starting Honda GCV170 engine, delivering nine percent more power and 18 percent more torque than the Honda GCV160 engine in the outgoing Honda HRR Series of mowers. More power and torque relate directly to the ability of the machine to tackle tough mowing conditions while still producing the clean, even cut prized by people who care for their lawns.  More torque means more force is being delivered to the blades, which results in easier and faster cutting — especially in heavy, thick grass where stalling can occur. The power and torque of the new Honda GCV170 engine provide more stable RPMs for greater consistency in cutting, mulching and bagging across a variety of lawn conditions. Increased displacement in the new GCV170 engine also contributes to more power and torque as compared to the GVC160 engine in the HRR Series. 

Vinny Prinzo, principal engineer, HRN Series development leader, Honda R&D Americas, demonstrates the new Honda HRN. Photo by John Kmitta.

The transmission has fewer parts for increased durability, and the new Honda GCV170 includes the exclusive Honda Auto Choke system. With a simplified structure and fewer parts, this user-friendly system is automatic, eliminating levers and cables. The engine starts easily, whether cold or hot, and is ready for immediate mowing. Once the engine is running, the Auto Choke automatically returns to an optimal operating position. The Honda GCV170 engine also features the Honda exclusive CycloFlow design, which produces increased turbulence in the cylinder and more stable combustion, resulting in easy starting and greater resistance to lower quality fuel. And even with more power and torque, the engine produces less vibration, which reduces fatigue and makes mowing more comfortable and enjoyable for the operator.

The Honda HRN Series of lawn mowers is designed with an array of intuitive controls for even smoother operating than the outgoing Honda HRR models.

Technologically innovative features begin with an improved design of the Adjustable Smart Drive that allows for ease of speed variation with a press of a wide paddle control on the handlebar. In addition, a 3-in-1 Clip Director lever located on the side of the engine cowling controls an entry shutter between the lawn mower deck and the grass bag, allowing the operator to easily mulch 100 percent of clippings, bag 100 percent of clippings, or rear discharge.

The operator can easily select either mulching or bagging options without the tools or attachments required on most conventional lawn mowers. 

Other features of the HRN mowers include a simplified cut height control system consisting of a new dual-lever height adjustment (as opposed to four levers on the outgoing HRR models).  With just two levers, the operator can make quick and convenient adjustments for seven different cutting heights, making it fast and easy to take a little off the top, make a deep cut or mow at standard maintenance heights. Finally, two-way releasing rear wheel ratchets increase maneuverability by the reducing effort required to turn or pivot in tight areas. Overall, the system delivers maximum flexibility and ease of operation.

The deck of the HRN has been redesigned to produce an efficient path for grass clippings to pass into the bag or onto the ground when mulching. The efficient pathway improves bagging and mulching, preventing grass clippings from clogging.

Under the deck, the new HRN models feature precision-crafted blades with the exclusive Honda Twin Blade MicroCut System for exact cutting and fine mulching at any height. Finer grass clippings make better mulch, and, when bagged, take less capacity in the grass bag. For even greater durability, the front wheels have been reconfigured to a simple single axle, and nut and bolt connections are made of steel and embedded in resin.

The HRN Series incorporate a fuel spout that is 60 percent wider than those featured on HRR models, along with an elevated oil spout that makes it easy to fill the gas or change the oil — reducing the potential for spillage. The design also features a smart engine layout with easy access to the spark plug, an optimized air cleaner that can be changed without tools.

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