Japanese automaker Honda confirmed on Tuesday that it intends to close its Swindon plant in 2021, threatening around 3,500 jobs and striking a blow to the UK amid difficult Brexit negotiations.
“Given the unprecedented changes affecting our industry, it is essential that we accelerate our vehicle electrification strategy and restructure our global operations,” said Katsushi Inoue, Honda boss in Europe. This decision was not taken lightly, and we deeply regret the trouble caused, he added.
The Swindon site produces more than 150,000 vehicles each year, and exports to more than 70 countries. The Japanese group, which has no other plants in Europe, will import from Japan following the closure.
“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,” said Greg Clark, the UK business secretary, adding that Honda’s plan was “a devastating decision” for Swindon and the UK.
The automotive sector in the UK is currently facing several challenges, with major manufacturers including as Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and BMW warning about the impact of a no-deal Brexit. Further issues also include a reduction in demand from China and a decline in diesel sales caused by the “Dieselgate” emissions scandal.
The news follows on from several international companies announcing they will move operations outside of the UK in the run-up to Brexit, as previously reported.