Honda has confirmed it will close both its Swindon vehicle manufacturing plant in the United Kingdom by 2021. Many blame Brexit for the decision, but conservative British MPs say the Japanese company is downsizing due to a lack of sales.
The job loss from the closure is expected to reach at least 7000 workers. The Swindon plant currently employs around 3500 people, but Honda estimates another 3500 could lose their jobs from suppliers to the company.
Electrification reason for the closure
Honda released a statement saying that the closure was due to a pivot towards electrified cars and a focus on ‘regions where it expects to have high production volumes.”
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, we have had to take this difficult decision to consult our workforce on how we might prepare our manufacturing network for the future. This has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling today’s announcement will be for our people.”
Employees at the factory told the BBC that they only heard about the closure via social media and are feeling gutted by the decisions. There is expected to be an all employees meeting held tomorrow.
Honda and the conservative government were quick to say that Brexit was not a factor in the decision, but industry leaders are angry at the uncertainty the lingering Brexit deal has caused.
Other car makers in Britain have warned that a no-deal Brexit may cost jobs while others like Jaguar have blamed the political uncertainty as one of the reasons for recent job cuts. The factory will close in 2021 at the end of the current Civic’s production cycle.
Production will move to Japan
The Swindon factory produces 150,000 Civics a year amounting to about a tenth of total UK vehicle production. The Swindon factory is Honda’s only European plant.
Civic production is likely to move back to Japan. Exports from Japan to the EU are tariff-free under current agreements. The news is devastating for the local economy of Swindon.
Located two hours west of London, the factory was part of an economic renaissance for the town when it began producing the Honda Accord in 1992. Since then the 370-acre site has produced the Jazz, CR-V, Civic and Type R.
The factory celebrated its three millionth car in 2015. It became fully operational and began producing the Honda Accord.