Honda to shut plant in Britain, imperiling 3,500 jobs

20 February, 2019, 04:38 | Author: Sally Reid
  • Honda is set to announce the closure of its Swindon car plant putting 3,500 jobs at risk reports say today

Honda Motor said it will hold a news conference this morning, a day after a British politician said the Japanese auto maker will announce the closure of its only British factory.

Honda built over 160,000 vehicles at Swindon, where it makes the hatchback version of its popular Civic model, accounting for a little more than 10 percent of Britain's total output of 1.52 million cars.

Earlier this month, Nissan axed production of the X-Trail SUV in the Brexit-backing northeast city of Sunderland, despite government assurances over the consequences from the European Union exit. While Honda's Swindon closure heralds a grim future for manufacturing and other employment in the town and the supply chain beyond, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the United Kingdom jobs machine was still running smoothly.

Swindon is the firm's only factory in the European Union, where it produces 100,000 Civic cars, but it doesn't blame Brexit for the closure.

Honda said under the proposed restructure, the current role of its United Kingdom manufacturing business (HUM) as a global manufacturing hub may no longer be viable.

The worker said: '[Tomlinson] wanted Brexit - he gets to carry the can.

Honda's president and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, said the decision was not related to Brexit, but was based on what made most sense for its global competitiveness in light of the need to accelerate its production of electric vehicles. Production for Europe will consolidate in Japan in 2021, Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, said on Twitter.

ORIGINAL STORY, AS REPORTED 18/02/2019, 1500h: Honda's assembly plant in Swindon has been one of the great United Kingdom manufacturing success stories since it first opened in 1985.

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Honda said: "This proposal comes as Honda accelerates its commitment to electrified cars, in response to the unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry". Brexit was not mentioned in the statement.

The restructuring announcement also noted the automaker's plant in Turkey will close in 2021. It has operated at less than full capacity in recent years as demand in Europe slumped, prompting Honda to suspend a production line with a capacity of 100 000 units in 2014.

Leave.EU has come under fire after Honda announced that it would be closing its Swindon factory months after reaffirming a desire to continue manufacturing in Britain.

"I think Swindon's finished without Honda", she said.

That target is 2025 for Europe, Honda announced at the time.

Honda said it would not be providing any comment on the "speculation".

L Alan Winters, director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, said that the backdrop of Brexit means that the UK is less able to respond to challenges in the industry.

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