Honda to close UK car plant in 2022, risking 3,500 jobs

The Japanese car giant built more than 160,000 of the Civic model at the Swindon factory last year

An aerial view of the Honda  plant at Swindon, England. Photograph:  David Goddard/Getty Images

An aerial view of the Honda plant at Swindon, England. Photograph: David Goddard/Getty Images

 

Japanese carmaker Honda is set to announce the closure of its Swindon car plant putting 3,500 jobs at risk, according to unconfirmed reports.

Sky News journalist Mark Kleinman, who broke the story, said on Twitter that the announcement by Honda could come on Tuesday, and that the plant was scheduled to close in 2022.

Spokesmen for Honda were not immediately available to comment on the report. However, the Press Association understands that politicians were being briefed on the situation on Monday afternoon.

Honda, which has struggled in Europe and built increasing proportions of its cars for sale outside of the continent in recent years, said this month that its production volumes would be reduced to 570 cars per day, and that it would make job cuts.

Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson said Honda’s decision to consolidate European market production in Japan was not as a result of Brexit.

He tweeted: “Honda will be consulting with all staff and there is not expected to be any job losses, or changes in production until 2021.”

Honda built just over 160,000 vehicles at its British factory last year, where it makes the Civic model, accounting for just over 10 per cent of Britain’s total output of 1.52 million cars.

The firm said last month that it would shut its British operations for six days in April to help it counter any border disruption from Britain’s departure from the EU.

It has also said it was preparing to front-load some production at its plant to ship overseas or build up inventories.

Supply bottlenecks

The decision is a blow to the UK motor industry that is battling a Brexit-related slowdown, potential tariffs and supply bottlenecks after it leaves the trade bloc on March 29th. Two weeks ago Nissan cancelled plans to build its X-Trail sport utility vehicle in Sunderland.

Japanese car-makers Nissan, Toyota and Honda build roughly half of Britain’s cars, and, along with the rest of the sector, have been proponents of free and unfettered trade after Brexit, calling on politicians to provide clarity as soon as possible.

US car-maker Ford told British prime minister Theresa May last week that it may have to move some production out of Britain because of Brexit, according to a source on the call.

As the political impasse over Brexit drags on, investments in the British automotive industry nearly halved last year to £589 million (€672m), the lowest since the global financial crisis, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers.

– PA/Boomberg