On April 20, Honda announced that it will build an advanced, multi-functional aeroacoustic wind tunnel facility — a $124 million project — at the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in East Liberty, Ohio. The facility will use a unique interchangeable belt system that produces wind speeds of up to 192mph to test production vehicles and racecars. Honda already has a wind tunnel in Japan, but the new US-based testing facility will give local manufacturers more flexibility and efficiency in creating high quality automobile products.
The Japanese automotive giant – which became the first automaker from Japan to begin production in the US in 1982 – is a major economic partner of Ohio. The corporation currently employs 14,300 residents from the Buckeye state and indirectly supports jobs for thousands of others involved in the supply chain. The auto industry is identified as one of nine industries with the greatest potentials for job growth in Ohio. Since 1982, Honda has invested over $17 billion in US manufacturing plants, with $10.5 billion being invested in Ohio alone. The company as a whole has manufactured over 17 million automobiles in the United States. In 2014, Honda became the first Japan automaker to be a net exporter from the United States.
Honda bought the TRC from the State of Ohio in 1988. The acquisition gave the Ohio State University College of Engineering $6 million to establish a transportation research endowment fund. Ohio State’s faculty, staff, and students will also join Honda researchers in the wind tunnel project.
Japan is the top source of investment in Ohio, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany. Japan leads the list of international corporate investment in Ohio with 856 establishments hiring 64,285 employees. The United States is the number one destinationfor Japanese foreign direct investment, receiving $384 billion in 2014.
Anh Pham is a Research Intern at the East West Center in Washington, DC and Master's Candidate in International Affairs at the School of International Service, American University.