A car’s origin is almost as important as the badge it carries. At least, that’s what Acura would have us believe with the TLX PMC Edition sedan, which hails from Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center (or PMC). The TLX PMC banks on the reputation of the NSX supercar, the previous car made at the Ohio plant. With this new video, Acura attempts to cash in on all these acronyms and burnish the halo on the PMC with a behind-the-scenes view of its Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio.
While the PMC is one of the most modern automotive assembly plants in the world, it has no conveyor belts or automated parts delivery systems. Yet-to-be-completed cars and subassemblies are moved by hand from station to station the way automobiles were assembled before Henry Ford started using an assembly line in 1913. Acura says this allows for maximum flexibility to accommodate bespoke customizations and multiple vehicle types.
The robots are left to specialize only in those processes that a human touch can’t improve. Acura says that the PMC is the first automotive assembly plant in the world to use robotic MIG welding for 100 percent of body construction. Eight robots can make 860 spot welds on a single aluminum-intensive monocoque, with locations accurate to the width of a human hair.
The PMC was established, Acura says, to innovate in the production of low-volume specialty cars through the marriage of human artisanry and craftsmanship with the precision of advanced manufacturing technology (we didn’t just think of ’82 Blade Runner).
The polished video highlights the plant's unique body construction method, its world-class paint shop, meticulous hand-assembly process, and Acura's total quality validation QC process. There’s also a peek into the exclusive NSX Insider Experience that Acura offers to NSX buyers.
The plant uses a number of patented and patent-pending technologies in its quality validation process, including four-wheel braking tests, a four-corner weight and ride height check, and a precision wheel alignment that takes 45 minutes. (By way of comparison, that's 44 minutes and 8 seconds longer than the interval between completed F-150s rolling off one of Ford’s assembly lines.)
Each NSX is performance-validated with a series of tests performed in-house at the PMC. Each NSX turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine is hand-assembled by a single master engine builder at Honda's Anna, Ohio, engine factory. Before it leaves the engine plant, each engine is bench-tested and broken in for the equivalent of 150 miles.
Painting and finessing the NSX’s final layers takes five days. The painting process integrates robotic spraying with precision hand-spraying by expert technicians. Some of the tri-coat finishes, which have pearl or metallic clear midcoats, are as many as 17 millimeters thick. That's about three times the thickness of the finish coatings on a typical production car.
To avoid cross-threading, almost every bolt on the NSX is started by hand. Only then is the bolt torqued to precise tolerances with wirelessly connected wrenches that validate and record the fastener's torque, which is then permanently incorporated in the specific vehicle's build data.
The PMC also produces the aluminum space frames for the NSX GT3 Evo race car. Should one of those racers get bent up, it is returned to Marysville for precision repair.
Additionally, the PMC is the dedicated repair facility for production NSX cars that suffer structural damage, as a typical collision shop does not have the equipment and technology needed to properly repair the NSX’s unibody.
Buyers who take advantage of the Insider Experience will be able to meet those technicians and maybe even tighten a few computer-torqued bolts themselves when they visit the factory.
For those of us on the outside of this exclusive experience, digital access is the closest we’ll get to Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center. Check out the video, and let us know whether the aura of performance convinces you to dish out approximately seventeen grand on top of the base price for the PMC Edition of the TLX.