Another Brexit victim?
As was previously rumored, Honda will close its Swindon factory in England in 2022. An official announcement is expected shortly, but Reuters has learned this is a done deal. A total of 3,500 jobs are now likely to be lost. But this isn’t just some small manufacturing facility, but rather home to the Civic hatchback and the Nurburgring record-holding Civic Type R hot hatch. The Honda CR-V crossover is also built there for various overseas markets, mainly for Europe.
All vehicles will probably shift production to Japan. So, why is Honda shuttering this facility, which built over 160,000 vehicles last year, or about 10 percent of Britain’s total output of 1.52 million cars? Don’t blame Brexit, according to local lawmaker Justin Tomlinson (who voted for Brexit).
He explained to Reuters that Honda’s decision has nothing to do with Brexit, but rather "a reflection of the global market. They (Honda) are seeking to consolidate production in Japan.” While that might be true, Japanese automakers have warned the UK to finalize a Brexit deal with the EU in order to secure their investments in the island nation. The fact that there’s still no deal in place ahead of next month’s divorce is very troublesome.
Nissan, for example, previously announced it has canceled plans to build its new X-Trail SUV at its Sunderland, UK plant. While the plant remains open for now, the fact that it’s losing out on what will likely be a hot-selling vehicle is a major blow. It’s not only Japanese automakers that are concerned about a post-Brexit UK, however.
Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s biggest automaker, is cutting 10 percent of its workforce, but that’s also due in part to slow sales in China. Toyota also has a production plant in the UK, but there’s still no word on its future status. As for Honda, the automaker is in the process of transforming itself from an automaker into a mobility company, just like the rest of the major automakers.
The future will consist of EVs and self-driving cars, so now is the time to prepare for that. Does that preparation directly affect Swindon? Possibly, yes, but the uncertainty over Brexit isn’t helping matters.