Automotive

The making of a supercar: Inside Acura's NSX production facility

The making of a supercar: Insi...
Acura NSX: After a long wait, this exquisite piece of automotive technology is set to enter series production
Acura NSX: After a long wait, this exquisite piece of automotive technology is set to enter series production
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Acura's new NSX supercar: 46 CPUs, three electric motors, two turbochargers, 860 MIG welds and 11 coats of primer and paint
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Acura's new NSX supercar: 46 CPUs, three electric motors, two turbochargers, 860 MIG welds and 11 coats of primer and paint
NSX aluminum alloy 3.5 liter V6 is assembled by eight engine master builders at Acura's Anna engine plant in Ohio
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NSX aluminum alloy 3.5 liter V6 is assembled by eight engine master builders at Acura's Anna engine plant in Ohio
Acura NSX: 3.5 liter V6 twin-turbo engine produces 500 hp and 406 ft lb of torque
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Acura NSX: 3.5 liter V6 twin-turbo engine produces 500 hp and 406 ft lb of torque
NSX brake caliper ready for installation
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NSX brake caliper ready for installation
Components laid out on work stations are labeled to ensure no left over parts
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Components laid out on work stations are labeled to ensure no left over parts
Acura NSX: Twin turbos adorn each side of the 75 degree V6
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Acura NSX: Twin turbos adorn each side of the 75 degree V6
Acura NSX: The optional carbon fiber rotor in foreground will set you back US$10,600
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Acura NSX: The optional carbon fiber rotor in foreground will set you back US$10,600
NSX with door frame, suspension components and interior in place
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NSX with door frame, suspension components and interior in place
Acura NSX: Console and dash installed, awaiting seats
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Acura NSX: Console and dash installed, awaiting seats
Final stages of the NSX build
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Final stages of the NSX build
The alignment lift with the "Star Wars" chair in the resting position
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The alignment lift with the "Star Wars" chair in the resting position
Acura NSX: Prepped space frame ready to accept interior components
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Acura NSX: Prepped space frame ready to accept interior components
The NSX will be available in eight colors including optional Nouvelle Blue Pearl, for an additional US$6000
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The NSX will be available in eight colors including optional Nouvelle Blue Pearl, for an additional US$6000
Overview of the 400,000 sq.ft. Ohio based NSX production floor
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Overview of the 400,000 sq.ft. Ohio based NSX production floor
Twin electric motors are fitted to the front end of the NSX
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Twin electric motors are fitted to the front end of the NSX
The underbelly of the NSX, showing quad exhausts
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The underbelly of the NSX, showing quad exhausts
Acura NSX: Almost complete product awaiting rear fascia, diffuser and wheels
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Acura NSX: Almost complete product awaiting rear fascia, diffuser and wheels
Acura NSX: The factory floor looks as clean as any NASA rover room
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Acura NSX: The factory floor looks as clean as any NASA rover room
Smart stations along the line display and torque info for each bolt
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Smart stations along the line display and torque info for each bolt
Acura NSX: State of the art automated paint booth applying Corsa Red to the body
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Acura NSX: State of the art automated paint booth applying Corsa Red to the body
Acura NSX: Polishing shop
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Acura NSX: Polishing shop
Acura NSX: Rotisserie sealer unit allows techs 360 degree access to targeted locations
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Acura NSX: Rotisserie sealer unit allows techs 360 degree access to targeted locations
The 2017 Acura NSX will go into full production in April
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The 2017 Acura NSX will go into full production in April
An original NSX (New Sports Experiment) also adorns the factory lobby
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An original NSX (New Sports Experiment) also adorns the factory lobby
Base price for NSX is US$156,000
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Base price for NSX is US$156,000
Optional carbon fiber brakes will set you back US$10,600
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Optional carbon fiber brakes will set you back US$10,600
Six ablation cast nodes serve as rigid suspension and powertrain mounting points, plus as critical points in the NSX's crash structure
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Six ablation cast nodes serve as rigid suspension and powertrain mounting points, plus as critical points in the NSX's crash structure
Acura NSX: The multi-material space frame is created with 100-percent robotic MIG welding
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Acura NSX: The multi-material space frame is created with 100-percent robotic MIG welding
Ablation casting used in the NSX is an industry first
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Ablation casting used in the NSX is an industry first
Acura NSX: The multi-material frame has 860 MIG welds, all performed by eight specialized robots
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Acura NSX: The multi-material frame has 860 MIG welds, all performed by eight specialized robots
Acura NSX: Rotisserie units allow weld robots to fully access all points
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Acura NSX: Rotisserie units allow weld robots to fully access all points
Acura NSX: Rotisserie units allow weld robots to fully access all points
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Acura NSX: Rotisserie units allow weld robots to fully access all points
Acura NSX: One of eight MIG welding robots working the line
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Acura NSX: One of eight MIG welding robots working the line
Acura NSX: Finished floor pan prior to assembly
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Acura NSX: Finished floor pan prior to assembly
Acura NSX: The frame is built using automated MIG welding, self-piercing rivets and flow-drill screws
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Acura NSX: The frame is built using automated MIG welding, self-piercing rivets and flow-drill screws
Acura NSX: The weld portion of the line is one of five key areas in the build cycle of the 2017 NSX
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Acura NSX: The weld portion of the line is one of five key areas in the build cycle of the 2017 NSX
Acura NSX: A smart torque wrench connected to work stations provides visual and haptic cues when optimal torque is reached
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Acura NSX: A smart torque wrench connected to work stations provides visual and haptic cues when optimal torque is reached
Acura NSX: Robot finishing up the rear hatch/engine cover
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Acura NSX: Robot finishing up the rear hatch/engine cover
Glass room where specialized, highly accurate machine measures for fit accuracy
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Glass room where specialized, highly accurate machine measures for fit accuracy
Acura NSX production line
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Acura NSX production line
Acura NSX build nears completion
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Acura NSX build nears completion
Acura NSX production line
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Acura NSX production line
Acura NSX production line
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Acura NSX production line
Acura NSX: Body jig where panels are placed prior to painting
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Acura NSX: Body jig where panels are placed prior to painting
Acura NSX: Composite SMC panels are used for the fenders, thin sheet aluminum for the hood and hatch, and hydro-formed aluminum for the doors
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Acura NSX: Composite SMC panels are used for the fenders, thin sheet aluminum for the hood and hatch, and hydro-formed aluminum for the doors
A Curva Red NSX awaiting its turn on the dyno
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A Curva Red NSX awaiting its turn on the dyno
The NSX in the final stages of production where it will receive dyno testing and key quality checks prior to release
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The NSX in the final stages of production where it will receive dyno testing and key quality checks prior to release
NSX in optional Nouvelle blue working its way up the line
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NSX in optional Nouvelle blue working its way up the line
As you'd expect for a supercar, luggage space is at a premium
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As you'd expect for a supercar, luggage space is at a premium
Acura NSX: A thing of beauty
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Acura NSX: A thing of beauty
Acura NSX: Engine installation stage of production
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Acura NSX: Engine installation stage of production
NSX sports a brand new 500 hp twin-turbo 3.5 liter V6
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NSX sports a brand new 500 hp twin-turbo 3.5 liter V6
Acura NSX: Nouvelle Blue Pearl model receives rear bumpers, wheels and another quality control check
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Acura NSX: Nouvelle Blue Pearl model receives rear bumpers, wheels and another quality control check
Final stages of quality control include brake force, ride height and weight balance
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Final stages of quality control include brake force, ride height and weight balance
Acura's "Star Wars" chair uses rollers attached to the hoist and a pedestal wheel to move about
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Acura's "Star Wars" chair uses rollers attached to the hoist and a pedestal wheel to move about
Acura designed a patent pending"Star Wars" chair for the alignment that attaches directly to the hoist and allows the techs to more comfortably perform the job
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Acura designed a patent pending"Star Wars" chair for the alignment that attaches directly to the hoist and allows the techs to more comfortably perform the job
Acura NSX: Each car receives a 45 minute alignment check
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Acura NSX: Each car receives a 45 minute alignment check
The NSX is built in Acura's dedicated Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio
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The NSX is built in Acura's dedicated Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio
Acura NSX: Detailed look at body panels and carbon fiber trim
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Acura NSX: Detailed look at body panels and carbon fiber trim
Acura NSX: Floor hoists disappearing when not in use
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Acura NSX: Floor hoists disappearing when not in use
Acura NSX: After a long wait, this exquisite piece of automotive technology is set to enter series production
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Acura NSX: After a long wait, this exquisite piece of automotive technology is set to enter series production
Acura NSX: The paint proofing booth has computer programmed floor pads which help test for squeaks or other issues
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Acura NSX: The paint proofing booth has computer programmed floor pads which help test for squeaks or other issues
Acura NSX at the last stages before completion
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Acura NSX at the last stages before completion
Acura NSX: The profile view shows the car's tight proportions and ultra-short overhangs
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Acura NSX: The profile view shows the car's tight proportions and ultra-short overhangs
Acura NSX: Front view
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Acura NSX: Front view
Acura NSX: Active ductwork aids in brake and engine cooling
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Acura NSX: Active ductwork aids in brake and engine cooling
The original NSX
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The original NSX
Key components of the complex NSX hybrid system
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Key components of the complex NSX hybrid system
Acura NSX interior
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Acura NSX interior
The NSX will go into serial production in August
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The NSX will go into serial production in August

We've endured fouryears of teasing since the initial concept was unveiled, but now Acura isfinally ready to deliver the 2017 NSX. Gizmag ventured to Marysville, Ohio, this past week for an extensive tour of Acura's new Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) for a behind the scenes look at the American built supercar.

Some 25 years ago the original NSX stunned the market with its aluminum-monocoque chassis, mid-mounted V6 and daily driver abilities ... with a little help from F1 legend, Ayrton Senna, who helped refine the production model after driving a test car in 1989.

An original NSX (New Sports Experiment) also adorns the factory lobby
An original NSX (New Sports Experiment) also adorns the factory lobby

The car is stunning in person. The tight proportions, short overhangs, chiseled aerodynamics and floating C-pillar don't communicate a great deal of the original NSX's design. But under the hydroformed doors and multi-material architecture hides one of the most technically advanced cars ever built.

The NSX runs Acura's all new Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system using no less than 49 CPUs. Power comes courtesy of a new 75 degree, 24 valve, 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged V-6. Developing 500 hp at 6500 rpm and 406 ft.lb of torque, the powerplant employs a dry sump lubrication system, aluminum alloy block and Cosworth heads. The small profile powerplant is hand-built by master builders, each taking roughly six hours to complete, at the Anna Engine Plant down the road from the PMC.

Acura claims a top speed of 307 km/h (191 mph) for the NSX with a 0-60 mph (96 km/h) time of roughly 3.0 seconds.

During the almost four year development phase, the engine layout was changed from from a transversearrangement to the current longitudinal one. It sports both direct and port fuel injection, with the former designed to provide optimal fuel delivery for normal driving and most acceleration needs, while the latter takes care of business when higher performance is called for.

NSX sports a brand new 500 hp twin-turbo 3.5 liter V6
NSX sports a brand new 500 hp twin-turbo 3.5 liter V6

Stuck on the back of the V6 and sandwiched in front of a new 9-speed dual-clutch gearbox is the Direct Drive Motor (DDM). The DDM provides instant power to the rear wheels and helps "torque fill" the void until the turbochargers and engine get into their sweet zones.

Capable of developing 47 hp at 3000 rpm and 109 ft.lb of torque from 500-2000 rpm, the water-cooled DDM unit, connected directly to the crankshaft, not only provides Tesla-like acceleration but also doubles as the starter motor and aids in charging the lithium-ion batteries.

This hybrid supercar puzzle is completed by the Twin Motor Unit (TMU) up front. Located centrally between the front wheels each water-cooled TMU is capable of developing 36 hp and 54 ft.lb of torque. This brings the total power for the complete hybrid system to 573 hp. Similar in concept to Porsche's 918 and McLaren's P1, the NSX's TMU unit not only provides added instantaneous e-power for launch but also brings torque vectoring to the equation. This, as Acura puts it, uses "the dynamic, instantaneous and continuous distribution of electric motor torque to enhance handling precision and cornering performance in all driving situations." So in effect, you should be able to get back on throttle quicker through corners.

There are four drive modes: Quiet (all-electric), Sport, Sport+ and Track. In addition to enhanced throttle response, upshifts and handling, exhaust notes can be altered for both in and outside the car.

The technological wizardry of the NSX is backed by a light-weight, composite body and a multitude of high performance materials. Floor panels are carbon fiber, the frame is a multi-material mix, body panels are SMC and aluminum, while the A-pillar, in a world first application, is composed of three-dimensional bent and quenched high strength.

Acura NSX: The multi-material space frame is created with 100-percent robotic MIG welding
Acura NSX: The multi-material space frame is created with 100-percent robotic MIG welding

Big Brembo 6-piston aluminum monoblock calipers bring about the stopping while Active Gen III magnetorheological coilover dampers and a multi-link aluminum rear suspension keep the car firmly planted. The iron brake rotors are kind of huge at 370 mm up front, with optional carbon ceramic discs available, and rear tires sized at 305/30ZR20 sit on 20 x 11 forged aluminum wheels.

Not surprisingly the NSX is tight in its proportions. From tip to tail the supercar measures out at 4.4 meters (14.43 ft) long with a wheelbase of 2.6 m (8.5 ft). At only 1.2 m (3.9 ft) tall the car is significantly shorter than it is wide at 2.2 m (7.2 ft).

The NSX tips the scales at a pretty hefty 1,725 kg (3,803 lb), which is a tad heavy by supercar standards – but for reference, the Porsche 918 weighs 1,700 kg (3,700 lb). It seems that this is the price one pays for such bleeding edge hybrid technology.

Walking the line

The NSX comes together in a pristine 400,000 sq.ft. factory space in Ohio, where the assembly team is ready toproduce eight cars a day by the end of April.

In anindustry first, ablation casting has been used by Acura in the buildof the frame. Ablation uses a traditionalsand mold to form six specially engineered nodes. Water is sprayed directly onto the sand mold once the molten metal is poured into the cast, causing it to dissolve orablate. The cast part is then instantly solidified. Acuraclaims the advantage of this process is a "near perfectmicrostructure" which is light but possesses excellentstructural properties.

The six nodes, which are produced at Acura's Anna, Ohio, engine plant ,are designed andengineered for key suspension points, powertrain mounts and ascritical collapsible crash components.

The line at the PMC is segregated into five dedicated areas: welding, paint, quality confirmation, assembly and vehicle quality. The car starts its life in welding where the multi-material frame receives 860 MIG welds from eight robots. The frame and various components sit on 360 degree rotisserie styled jigs that allow robots direct access. Here's a quick walk through.

Acura NSX: One of eight MIG welding robots working the line
Acura NSX: One of eight MIG welding robots working the line

Once the spaceframe is welded up it moves over to the glass-enclosed QualityConfirmation Center. Capable of measuring inaccuracies of 50 microns,the purpose-built machine ensures everything is where it should bebefore the frame is moved on to the paint stage.

The paintsection includes multiple dipping tanks for prepping the space frame.Extensive use of aluminum in the architecture required Acura to use azirconium-based product prior to applying a corrosion resistantprimer coat. The zirconium etches the aluminum in order to optimizeadherence of the primer coat.

Acura NSX production line
Acura NSX production line

Following theprep process, a black coated frame is sealed and a quality checkuses different colored lights to illuminate sealed areas, ensuring coverage is consistent across all applicable areas via visual cues.

While thesealed and primed frame moves on for interior trim, steering,suspension, electrical and glass, the exterior panels proceed throughthe paint booth for priming and paint. Precisely set on a mountingjig, the doors, hood and roof receive 11 coats of paint and primervia two robotic sprayers. Panels are then touchedup by hand then sent off for final polishing.

Back on theline, the NSX is fitted with its hand-built 500 hptwin-turbo V6 with Direct Drive electric motor, 9-speed dual-clutchgearbox and dry-sump lube system. The car later receives the fronttwin motor unit.

At each station, smart-monitors provide techs with specificinstructions for that stage of the build, with parts, order of install,torque figures and other critical information displayed. Smart, wireless torquewrenches notify techs when optimal torque is reached via visual andhaptic signals. The monitor confirms when proper torque is achievedand records data for quality purposes.

The bodypanels and wheel fitment follows, then the NSX rolls onto one of several hiddenfloor hoists for its 45 minute alignment drill. This step uses the patent-pending "StarWars" chair (which looks like a re-purposed office chair) that's attachedvia rollers to rails under the hoist. When the car is raised the chair lets the tech remain seated while rolling underneath tomake alignment adjustments.

Acura NSX: Nouvelle Blue Pearl model receives rear bumpers, wheels and another quality control check
Acura NSX: Nouvelle Blue Pearl model receives rear bumpers, wheels and another quality control check

Final stagesprior to release include a brake check to ensure consistent braketravel in every car and series of output tests on the dyno. Anotherfloor concealed hoist within a hoist allows techs to perform anyminor adjustments prior to sign off. The car is then run through aspecially lit room for another quality check while hidden floor padsrise up under each wheel to perform a vibration and bounce tests.

Serial production of the 2017 NSX is slated to begin in late April with customer deliveries to "commence immediately thereafter." The NSX will be available ineight exterior colors and four interior trim options. Pricing starts at US$156,000 and goes up to $200,000 plus once you start ticking boxes for the various carbonfiber options.

In the meantime, take a visual tour of the NSX production facility in our extensive photo gallery.

Source: Acura

5 comments
RichardBlack
The front left engine mount casting in photo 29 appears to have have a crack in it near the front chassis weld. Only holds the bumper on, and cross members together.
RichardBlack
Oops it's the back end of the rear right engine mount casting in photo 29 that looks like it is cracked, just forward of the weld.
guzmanchinky
I'm sure this is a great car. But at that price, isn't it slower than many others (911 turbo, Ferrari, McLaren, etc)? And at that price, the people looking for status aren't going to want an Acura, are they? My $150k+ would go to one of those new S convertibles with the big AMG engine. Or an M6. Or a plain old 911. Or a used 458? Hmmmmm...
Grunchy
Seems like a cheaper, faster, heavier version of the Ford GT.
Stephen N Russell
love 2 rent, be nice.