HONDA is preparing to close its factory in Swindon – a “devastating” blow to the 3,500 staff who work there.
Production is due to end in 2021. Here is what we know so far.
Reuters The Honda plant in Swindon is to close in 2021
When is the Swindon Honda factory closing?
Honda confirmed on February 19, 2019, that the Swindon factory will cease production in 2021.
Around 3,500 jobs will be lost.
The Japanese giant’s only factory in the EU makes 150,000 Honda Civics a year – of which 90 per cent are exported to Europe.
Just six months ago, Honda told staff it had no plans to move work to Japan.
But Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson revealed Honda told him it was consulting with “all staff”.
Des Quinn of union Unite said before the news was confirmed: “This would be a shattering blow at the heart of UK manufacturing.”
Unite regional officer Alan Tomala, who worked at the plant from 1995 to 2007, said workers were “angry, dismayed and worried”.
He said: “The usual formula is one job in the plant equates to four in the supply chain and the local economy.
“If closure is confirmed, it will rip the heart out of this area.”
Honda was the first major Japanese car maker to get involved in large-scale manufacturing in the UK when it did a deal with British Leyland in 1980.
Work began on its plant in Swindon in 1985.
2009 AFP The Swindon factory is the only one in the UK and is responsible for the manufacture of 160,000 Honda Civics last year – of which 90 per cent were exported to the EU
Why is it closing? Is it because of Brexit?
Honda blamed “global trends” including a decline in demand for diesel motors and tougher regulations.
It said it wants to invest in electric cars and Brexit had nothing to do with the decision.
Ian Howells, senior vice-president for Honda in Europe, told the BBC: “We’re seeing unprecedented change in the industry on a global scale.
“We have to move very swiftly to electrification of our vehicles because of demand of our customers and legislation.
“This is not a Brexit-related issue for us, it’s being made on the global-related changes I’ve spoken about.
“We’ve always seen Brexit as something we’ll get through, but these changes globally are something we will have to respond to.
“We deeply regret the impact it will have on the Swindon community.”
No job losses or change in production are expected before 2021.
In September Mr Howells said the company remained “right behind” its plant in Swindon and was not considering moving out of the UK after Brexit.
Trouble for the UK’s car industry
November 2018: Michelin annouces closure of its tyre factory in Dundee by mid 2020, costing 845 jobs
January 2019: Toyota warns of job cuts for their plant in Burnaston in the event of a no-deal Brexit
January 2019: Ford annouces up to 400 volunatary redunancies at its engine plant in Bridgend in the first phase of almost 1,000 job losses
Feburary 2019: Nissan confirms that its next generation X-Trail, which were to be made in Sunderland, will now be made in Japan.
Feburary 2019: Honda annouces Swindon closure with the loss of over 3,000 jobs
A bleak time for the UK car industry?
The news comes a fortnight after Nissan told workers its next-generation X-Trail would be made in Japan and not Sunderland, despite the Government’s £80million sweetheart deal.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said Honda’s decision was “devastating” for Swindon and the UK.
Labour MP Rachel Reeves, chairwoman of the Business committee, said it would be “devastating for Swindon, for jobs, for the supply chain, and for the UK’s car industry”.
She added: “The threat of Brexit is already having a damaging impact on investment decisions in the UK.
“The PM now needs to rule out no deal immediately and keep us in the single market and customs union rather than risk further fatal damage to our car industry.”
Honda ‘set to close Swindon factory by 2020 putting 3,500 jobs at risk’