Honda confirms plans to close Swindon factory in 2021

Muriel Colon
February 20, 2019

Honda says its Swindon vehicle plant will close with the potential loss of some 3500 jobs. The suspension was put down to Brexit, with the predicted border delays brought about by Britain's exit from the European Union expected to cause a disruption to production.

Honda's announcement would come just over two weeks after bigger Japanese auto maker Nissan canceled plans to build its X-Trail sport utility vehicle in Britain.

The plant now produces 150,000 cars a year.

The rumor Honda refused to confirm was true after all.

A spokesperson for Honda said the global vehicle industry is facing "unprecedented changes" forcing the brand to refocus in "regions where it expects to have high production volumes". The closure of the factory that makes the Jazz, CR-V, Civic Hatchback and Civic Type R (Swindon is the global hub for the FK8) is part of a move to restructure Honda's global manufacturing network, and to focus on electrification.

"We've always seen Brexit as something we'll get through, but these changes globally are something we will have to respond to", Ian Howells, the senior vice president for Honda in Europe, told the BBC in a statement.

"This is not Brexit-related".

In a tweet on Monday, local MP Justin Tomlinson said: "Honda are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit, as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021". Honda now says that the number isn't big enough to justify the factory's existence beyond its current production schedule.

One worker, who has been at the plant for 24 years, said he blamed the closure on Brexit.

The restructuring announcement also noted the automaker's plant in Turkey will close in 2021.

Mr Clark accepted Honda's decision was "not about Brexit".

"The logistics of moving a factory the size of Swindon would be huge, and as far as we're concerned from a European (perspective), and as far as our Japanese head office is concerned, we're right behind supporting continued production at Swindon and indeed our whole European operation to continue there".

There was no mention of Brexit in the statement.

"Car manufacturers have repeatedly warned the government about the threat Brexit poses to British industry", Stadler said, noting that Jaguar Land Rover had also scaled back its operations.

"Honda seems to have been preparing for this for a long time".

It produced 150,000 Civics a week in its Swindon plant.

"Without free and open trade between the U.K. and the rest of the EU, Japanese companies will not be impressed by any U.K. -Japan trade deal".

"Workers at Honda must not pay the price for the prime minister playing to the hardliners in her party and we urge Honda to sit down urgently with Unite to discuss a way forward for the plant", O'Grady said.

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