More pain ahead for Britain's car industry in wake of Honda blow

Honda: Japanese car manufacturer to SHUT Swindon factory | Daily Star

Honda expected to announce Swindon plant closure | Motoring News

Japanese vehicle giant Honda said Tuesday it will shut its plant in Britain in 2021, a move that puts 3,500 jobs at risk and comes amid rising Brexit concerns.

Honda announced Tuesday that it may close its auto factory in Swindon, UK, by 2021.

Honda, which said the decision was based on changes in the global vehicle market, will also stop making its popular Civic sedan at its plant in Turkey from 2021, although it plans to continue its operations in that country, Chief Executive Takahiro Hachigo told a news conference in Tokyo. "This decision has been made on the basis of... global changes", Honda's senior vice president for Europe, Ian Howells, insisted.

It said under this restructuring, Honda UK's role as a global manufacturing hub "may no longer be viable". The announcement comes just over two weeks after fellow Japanese carmaker Nissan reversed its decision to build a new SUV in Britain.

For Honda, declining demand for diesel vehicles and tougher emissions regulations have also clouded its manufacturing prospects. Clark said that is a "devasting decision" for Swindon.

Honda earlier confirmed reports that it intends to shut the factory in 2021, putting 3,500 British jobs at risk in the process. The closure of this factory will be the first time they have shut down on of their manufacturing plants in their 71 years of operations. Instead he said: "We're seeing unprecedented change in the industry on a global scale".

Greg Clark said even while Honda said Brexit was not to blame for this decision a no deal Brexit would be a "hammer blow" to the industry.

Yesterday local Tory MP Justin Tomlinson said he had been assured that the closure "based on global trends and not Brexit" - however, the timing of the announcement will be viewed as a further blow to the UK Government with just 38 days to go until it leaves the bloc.

At the time, Honda said it would make the United Kingdom its production hub for the Civic, with the model being exported to more than 70 countries around the world, including North America and Canada. A recent free-trade agreement between Japan and Europe gave credence to the idea, as Honda could switch manufacturing to Japan and import its cars to Europe tariff-free.

Honda's decision came hot on the heels of Nissan axing production at its Sunderland plant in northeast England. "It would be an act of folly to toss that away, along with friction free access to the European Union market, in the forlorn hope that we could negotiate a better deal".

Senior vice-president of Honda Europe Ian Howells said previous year that Britain leaving the European Union without a deal would cost the company tens of millions of pounds, but that they were preparing for such an outcome. Consultation with potentially affected employees will begin today, Honda says.

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