Gail May has had a phenomenal career.
She’s the division manager for the Performance Manufacturing Center—the place where the Acura NSX is built. By hand. In a plant that was setup specifically in order to be able to produce the vehicle with the level of quality execution required of a vehicle that has a starting price just shy of $160,000. (The PMC is also where special editions of other Acura models are modified.)
MIG welding inside the Acura Precision Manufacturing Center, where the NSX is built. (Images: Honda)
May has another assignment related to the PMC: She is the associate chief engineer, which means that she is the technical and quality leader at the facility. It is worth noting that she is (1) a mechanical engineering grad from The Ohio State University and (2) the former quality team leader at the facility, which was responsible for getting the NSX launched.
May has been with Honda since 1993, having started as an engineering staff associate in the product engineering development group at the Marysville Auto Plant.
Gail May, division manager of the Acura Performance Manufacturing Center.
Which then brings us to another person whose previous job to the one he has now—vice president at Honda of America Manufacturing—was as plant manager at the Marysville Auto Plant.
He’s been with Honda of America Manufacturing since 1985 and during these 35 years has had a number of positions, both in Ohio, as well as Japan (he lived in Japan for the development of the fifth-generation Accord, then back there for the development of the sixth-generation Accord).
His present job makes him responsible for all of the Honda manufacturing plants in North America.
His name is Rob May.
Yes, he is Gail May’s husband.
Autoline After Hours: The 500th Show
On this very special edition of “Autoline After Hours”—the 500th “AAH”—John McElroy and I have the opportunity to talk with the Mays.
It is a wide-ranging discussion, including how one builds an Acura NSX, how one manufactures hundreds of thousands of vehicles like the Accord that have legendary quality and reliability, and how the wife and husband are able to manage the work-life balance (two factors to keep in mind: they both typically work 12- to 14-hour days; they have a white board in their house that they use for discussions).
The 20 millionth vehicle that Honda has built in Ohio: an Accord at the Marysville Plant.
Either one of them would be a top-notch guest, full of true deep knowledge of the industry.
And on this show you can see both.
In addition to which, for the second half of the show we are joined by long-time automotive journalist—some would argue the dean of auto journalists—Paul Eisenstein of The Detroit Bureau. The discussion goes into the hugely unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic and know that part-two of the show is somewhat bracing.
But we do get to some interesting discussions about cars, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, the Mazda CX-30 and the Genesis G90.
And you can see it all here.
According to Kunihiro Hoshi, chief engineer for the GX 470: “Three of my top goals were to create a body-on-frame vehicle with sweeping off-road performance and unibody-like on-road capability, and, of course, it had to meet the Lexus quality standard.” He met his goals. But why would anyone want to bang this vehicle around on rocks?
Generally, when OEMs produce aluminum engine blocks (aluminum rather than cast iron because cast iron weighs like cast iron), they insert sleeves into the piston bores—cast iron sleeves.
I'm not talking about a plastic Revell model of a '57 Chevy, but a real vehicle, one that rolls off an assembly line in 1999 with another 99,999 just like it right behind. Is it possible, or is this just a fantasy of the marketing department at Elmer's?