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

Marco Green
February 20, 2019

The Business Secretary warned the auto industry needs MPs to vote for the Brexit deal today as he scrambled to respond to Honda planning to close its Swindon plant.

Christian Stadler, a professor at Warwick Business School in England, said the loss of free entry into the European market from Britain undoes one of its top advantages as a manufacturing base.

A source at the plant said it was awaiting official confirmation from Honda and had not been told anything about what it means for production in Merthyr.

The plant, located in Swindon, now builds the Honda Civic hatchback and the Civic Type R models. European Civic sales stood at 42,308 previous year, a six percent rise.

The factory previously produced the Accord, the Jazz, and the CR-V SUV which stopped being produced at the plant previous year.

Honda has already announced a temporary halt in production at the factory.

Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota executive vice-president, noted that the firm's assembly plant in Burnaston, central England, which produces 600 vehicles per day, operates under the "just-in-time" system that relies on a smooth flow of components from the EU. But Honda has provided us a statement that reveals the hatchback and Type R appear to be safe, where production may be moved to, and when we may be seeing a totally new Civic.

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.

Justin Tomlinson, a Conservative lawmaker for Swindon who voted for Brexit in 2016, said he had met with the business minister and representatives from Honda who had confirmed the plans.

The company said it was revising its global manufacturing operations amid the "significant challenges" involved in the transition to electric vehicles.

Honda announced it will close its Swindon, U.K., manufacturing plant in 2021 when production ends on the current-generation Civic.

Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow business secretary, said: 'This is devastating news, first and foremost for Honda employees and their families, but also for the jobs across the supply chain and the impact on the local economy in Swindon.

In the UK, Honda said it will begin "consultation" on the closure over the coming months with the factory's workforce and union.

The global restructure will also involve Honda's automobile operations in Turkey.

The plant now produces 150,000 cars a year. Honda operates the Alliston, Ontario, and Greensburg, Indiana, plants in Canada and the U.S. Both now build the Honda Civic sedan models. It said it would continue operating there, however, and hold a "constructive dialogue" with local stakeholders.

Honda says it will stop making cars in the United Kingdom, but the Japanese firm says it's not about Brexit, just a response to a changing global market.

'As a result, we have had to take this hard decision to consult our workforce on how we might prepare our manufacturing network for the future. "We have made this announcement today due to the timing for deciding on a production base for the next Civic".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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