Reports suggest Japanese manufacturer will announce plans to close plant in 2022, putting 3500 jobs at risk
by Lawrence Allan
18 February 2019
Honda is expected to announce that its production facility in Swindon will shut in the next three years, according to several news reports.
The closure of the Wiltshire plant, which is the international home of Civic production, could be disclosed in a plan by the Japanese manufacturer as early as tomorrow morning, Sky News suggests.
Although it’s yet to be confirmed by Honda, the move would be a huge blow for the Government’s hopes of the UK remaining an established manufacturing hub after Brexit, as well as the firm’s 3500-strong workforce in Swindon.
It’s thought that the threat of import tariffs for European-made cars from Donald Trump’s administration is a significant factor in the plant’s future, because the US is one of the Civic’s main markets. Other factors, including uncertainty over Brexit and the decline in demand for diesel vehicles, are thought to be impacting on the viability of the factory.
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But perhaps the main motivation behind Honda’s unconfirmed decision is the new deal the Japanese government has struck with the EU. This means tariffs on Japanese-made cars coming into 27 European countries will be phased out this year, reducing the financial benefit of Honda having a UK hub. The Civic is also built in Turkey, which is likely to be more favourable as a factory from a cost perspective.
Honda UK Manufacturing, which was established in Swindon in 1985, has received a total investment of £1.5 billion across the facility’s numerous buildings. But the brand’s future was looking gloomy way before Brexit. It mothballed one half of its Swindon plant after sales failed to recover following the 2008 financial crisis, and then decided to produce just the Civic hatchback, dumping the Jazz and CR-V.
Back in 2008, Swindon produced more than 230,000 cars annually, but with production of the Accord, plus the Jazz and CR-V, since moved elsewhere in the world, that number has nearly halved.