Honda confirms Swindon factory closure following consultation

Honda has confirmed that it will close its manufacturering plant in Swindon in 2021, saying that it could not identify any “viable alternatives” following a period of consultation.

The Japanese firm announced plans to close the factory, which currently builds the Civic, in February, putting 3500 jobs at risk. At the time, it said the move was due to “unpredecented changes in the global automotive industry”.

In its latest statement, Honda said that the need to accelerate its electification plans meant that “resources, capabilities and production systems for electrified vehicles will be focused in regions with a high volume of customer demand”.

Honda says it has undertaken a “meaningful and robust” consultation period since then, which included contributions from the UK government, unions and other outside groups. But it said that phase has now concluded, and staff at the factory were informed this morning (13 May) that the closure would go ahead in 2021, when the current Civic reaches the end of its lifecycle.

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The firm will now begin the second phase of the consultation, which includes finalising redundancy packages and “identifying the impact on individual roles up until production ceases in 2021”. Honda said it will also consult with the Swindon Task Force set up by Secretary of State Greg Clark to “mitigate the impact of this decision on the wider community”.

The closure would result in 3500 job losses. The Wiltshire factory, which builds only the Civic, currently produces 150,000 cars annually – far from its capacity of 250,000 units.

The closure is a huge blow for the government’s hopes of the UK remaining an established car manufacturing hub post-Brexit. While Brexit hasn’t been cited as a reason for Honda’s plans, it is the latest factor in a perfect storm for the industry.

Honda of the UK Manufacturing, which was established in Swindon in 1985, has received a total investment of £1.5 billion across its numerous buildings. It mothballed half of its plant after sales failed to recover following the 2008 financial crisis and then decided to produce just the Civic, with the Jazz and CR-V moving elsewhere in the world.

Back in 2008, Swindon produced more than 230,000 cars annually, but that number has now nearly halved.