DETROIT, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co, Japan's third largest automaker, is relocating its U.S. leadership team from California to Ohio, where the company has several manufacturing and technical facilities.
The automaker also is merging support services for its various North American operations under a new subsidiary, Honda North America Services, on April 1.
A spokesman said the moves are designed to centralize key functions and speed decision making.
Honda North America and HNSA will be located at the automaker's existing campus in Marysville, Ohio, where Honda opened the first Japanese auto plant in the United States in 1982.
HNSA will help coordinate such common functions as manufacturing, purchasing, sales, research and development for Honda North America and such affiliates as Honda of America Manufacturing and Honda Engineering North America.
Tetsuo Iwamura, Honda's top North American executive, will move to Marysville from Torrance, California, where the company's sales arm, American Honda Motor Co, will remain.
Iwamura will take on the additional title of chief operating officer of Automobile Operations for the Japanese parent. He remains president of Honda North America, COO of North American regional operations, and president and CEO of American Honda Motor.
Hidenobu Iwata has been named president of the newly established Honda North America Services unit, while continuing as president of Honda of America Manufacturing and senior managing officer of Honda Motor Co.
Both Iwamura and Iwata will be based in Marysville.
Fewer than 50 employees will move from Torrance to Marysville, Honda said, while about 2,500 employees will remain in California.
Nissan Motor Co announced in late 2005 plans to shift its U.S. headquarters and most employees from Carson, California, to Franklin, Tennessee, near the automaker's manufacturing facilities. The new headquarters building opened in 2010. (Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Richard Chang)