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Honda confirms Swindon plant closure

Honda Swindon

Honda has confirmed it is planning to close down its Swindon plant in 2021, leading to the loss of around 3,500 jobs.

In a huge blow to the UK’s automotive industry, the Japanese manufacturer says the decision to consider closing the factory is due to the shift towards electrified vehicles and is not related to Brexit.

The Swindon plant is Honda’s only facility in Europe, producing the Civic for European and American markets – exporting to more than 70 countries.

Katsushi Inoue, chief officer for European Regional Operations, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and president, Honda Motor Europe, said; “In light of the unprecedented changes that are affecting our industry, it is vital that we accelerate our electrification strategy and restructure our global operations accordingly. “

As a result, Inoue said: “We have had to take this difficult decision to consult our workforce on how we might prepare our manufacturing network for the future.”

He added: “This has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling today’s announcement will be for our people.”

Honda’s Swindon plant produced 150,000 vehicles per year and has made more than 3 million cars in the last 30 years.

The announcement comes just weeks after Nissan announced that it will not be producing the new X-Trail in the UK, and months after the EU signed a free trade deal with Japan.

Honda said consultation activity will begin immediately, and it will be working closely with its workforce, including the recognised trade union, Unite the Union, over the months ahead.

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  • Louise - 19/02/2019 11:13

    A sad day for vehicle manufacturing in the UK and all those employeed by Honda in Swindon and those who are impacted by this decision.

  • Daedalus - 19/02/2019 13:08

    Mr Inoue's explanation for the Swindon plant closure seems to have profound implications for the size of the car market post-electrification. If Honda expect to be able to do without Swindon, what other manufacturers are also planning similar capacity reductions to be ready for the probable volume and ownership dynamics of a market dominated by EVs?

  • Devon Guy - 19/02/2019 17:37

    Heartfelt sympathies to all affected by this miserable news. There is more than a hint of cruel similarity to the demise the railway industry, in Swindon, in the last century. I’m sure there is a feeling of betrayal, in Swindon, as I seem to recall this site was one of the most efficient plants in the world at one stage. As I type this on my Chinese made laptop, sat on a Swedish branded chair (made in Vietnam), wearing UK branded clothes (made in Indonesia), listening to music on my American branded but Chinese made mobile phone, I wonder why nobody supports British industry any more…! The answer of course, is cost, quality and the effects of globalisation. The hint in this sentence, is that it is no longer cost effective to make anything in western Europe or the US. In the words of indie pop vetrans, Echo and the Bunnymen, “Nothing ever lasts for ever” and never were that ever truer in the cold hard free market globalised world in which we live. Back in the 1980s the government of the time “incentivised” Honda to set up shop in the UK to avoid inter-Europe import tariffs. A move that frustrated many of “our European friends” and even more of the big manufacturers. Bring it up to date and one could be cynical and suggest, the EU would have been fully aware that the consequences of significantly reducing trading tariffs between Japan and Europe would be for manufacturing resource to be redeployed back towards the east. But then, maybe the EU aren’t too worried about the UK’s economic plight in a post-Brexit world. However, it is increasingly looking like the decision to close the plant is little to do with Brexit. Honda is indeed economic with the words when they reference the decision being due to changing global markets. What that means is that most of the sales growth is in China and the far east; the diminution of the trade barriers now means manufacturing costs, makes relocation of manufacturing to the far east an economic necessity to ensure organisational survival. Add to that reduced labour regulation and the lower environmental standards (important with all those nasty chemicals, toxins and acids associated with large-scale battery production) in some countries and it really is a no-brainer to relocate. One presumes such incentives might also have influenced James Dyson in making his new electric car in Indonesia (note a similar tariff agreement has been agreed between Indonesia and the EU). Unfortunately, Britain is in decline, we need to find alternative industries fast, or face a very rapid economic decay. This isn’t just about cars….

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