Honda has confirmed that it will close its Swindon car plant in 2021 along with a smaller plant in Turkey, with the loss of 3,500 jobs in the British factory. However, up to four times as many jobs at companies that supply the Honda facility will likely be lost, including transport and logistics positions.
The announcement of the plant closure was linked to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) by some Members of Parliament (MPs) and other commentators, but Ian Howells, senior vice president for Honda in Europe, said that this is not a Brexit-related issue.
“Brexit as well as the European Partnership Agreement is not something that has been part of this decision. What this decision has been driven by is a combination of two factors – one, 2021 is the date when the new Honda Civic will start production and two is that we have to make that decision [where to produce the new model] now,” said Howells.
Strategic changes in the global car market were blamed for the decision to close the factories, as the company undergoes a global restructuring of its business, including the closure of Honda Turkiye A.S. in Kocaeli, Turkey.
That facility employs 1,100 staff and produces 38,000 Honda Civics annually. Like Swindon, the factory will close when the model’s production cycle ends in 2021.
Katsushi Inoue, Honda’s Chief Officer for European Regional Operations and President of 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.”
New cars will need to be either hybrid or fully electric, and while the Government in the United Kingdom has invested in research and development projects in an effort to maintain the car industry, some believe that this effort has not been sufficient to persuade car manufacturers to maintain production in Britain.