Honda confirms closure of Swindon plant

W HONDA

Honda of the UK Manufacturing has confirmed that it will close its Swindon vehicle manufacturing plant at the end of the current model’s production lifecycle, in 2021. The plant currently produces 150,000 cars per year, and employs around 3,500 people.

This proposal comes as Honda accelerates a move to electrified cars, in response to the unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry. Honda said that the significant challenges of electrification will see the company revise its global manufacturing operations, and focus activity in regions where it expects to have high production volumes.

Consultation activity has begun and HUM says it will be working closely with its workforce, including the recognised trade union, Unite the Union, over the months ahead.

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.”

HUM Director, Jason Smith, said; “We understand the impact this proposal will have on our associates, wider supplier base and the local community. We are committed to supporting associates to help them through this difficult time.”

Honda’s European HQ will continue to be located in Bracknell in the UK. It will be focused on serving the needs of its European customers.

Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd is a fully integrated car manufacturing plant that currently produces over 150,000 units per year.

It is the global production hub for the 10th generation Civic, with a new vehicle rolling off the line every 69 seconds. As Honda’s European flagship factory, it employs over 3,500 people to build and export the Civic and Civic Type R to over 70 countries worldwide.

Honda’s Swindon site spans 370 acres to the Northeast of the town. Honda bought the former airfield site in 1985 and established Honda of the UK Manufacturing. Within twelve months, the site was operational.

By 1989 the Japanese car manufacturer had opened its engine plant. In 1992, Car Plant One became fully operational and began producing the Honda Accord. Since then Honda has gone on  to produce the Jazz, CR-V, Civic and Type R.

In 2015, it celebrated production of its three millionth car and in 2017, the company launched the tenth generation Civic and the new Civic Type R.

Referring to Honda’s announcement, the Government’s Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Honda have said this is a commercial decision based on unprecedented changes in the global market. Regardless, this is a devastating decision for Swindon and the UK.

“This news is a particularly bitter blow to the thousands of skilled and dedicated staff who work at the factory, their families and all of those employed in the supply chain.

“I will convene a taskforce in Swindon with local MPs, civic and business leaders as well as trade union representatives to ensure that the skills and expertise of the workforce is retained, and these highly valued employees move into new skilled employment.

“The automotive industry is undergoing a rapid transition to new technology. The UK is one of the leaders in the development of these technologies and so it is deeply disappointing that this decision has been taken now.”

Honda isn’t the only car plant in Swindon. BMW Group Plant Swindon produces body pressings and sub-assemblies for the BMW MINI, which are then taken to its plant at Oxford, along with the engines which are manufacturers at Hams Hall. Oxford is where the body shell production, paint and final assembly takes place.

Swindon MPs Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland, who are both Conservative, have released the following statement:

“With nothing yet confirmed to the workforce, we are very disappointed and surprised to hear the emerging news that Honda is preparing to close its Swindon plant in 2021.

“Today we have spoken to the Business Secretary & Honda, and will be speaking with the Prime Minister later today.

“Honda have been very clear – this decision has been made because of global trends and is not related to Brexit. The Turkey factory will also close as all European market production is being consolidated to Japan where the company is based.

“This consolidation is made easier by the new EU-Japan trade deal which will allow Honda to produce their cars in Japan and import them into the EU, rather than produce the cars in Europe.

“Honda have told us today that they will be consulting with all staff and there is not expected to be any job losses or change in production until 2021.

“We will work closely with the Government, Honda and the Trade Unions to support the workforce, and there will be a task force set up to provide support for all staff – as was previously the case when jobs were lost at Honda.

“Our thoughts are with fellow residents and friends who work at Honda and in the local supply chain too.  We will do all we can to support them as news continues to emerge.”

Key Facts – Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd (HUM)

  • Established in 1985
  • Started operations in 1986 (Pre-delivery inspections)
  • Began engine production in 1989
  • Began car production in 1992
  • Current workforce – 3,500 associates
  • Cumulative car production – 3,507,862 (to end 2018)
  • 2018 (calendar year) car production – 160,075
  • Models currently produced:
    • Civic Hatchback
    • Civic Type R
  • Production is currently exported to over 70 countries
  • Production % split: UK 15%/ Europe 20%/ North America 55% / Japan 8% / Others 2%)

(based on 2018 results)