The perfect storm of bad things is happening.
The current generation Honda Civic Type R and regular hatchback undergo final assembly in the UK. Honda's factory here is scheduled to close permanently next year, with next-generation models set to be manufactured in Ohio. In the meantime, production was supposed to continue at this plant in Swindon, about 60 miles west of London, until the generational changeover but this has been temporarily halted, according to Automotive News.
The reason is a combination of factors that struck at the same time, including a growing number of Covid-19 cases, the pre-Christmas holiday rush, and Brexit-related preparations. There's also a parts shortage from Asia.
The container port in Felixstowe where Honda receives shipments from its home base in the Far East is experiencing delays due to a congested container at the port. Honda is not the only automaker with UK operations that are stocking up on parts prior to the Brexit transition that ends on January 1, 2021. With only a few weeks to go and a no-trade deal between the UK and the EU looking increasingly likely, automakers have no choice but to plan for the worst.
Others have found creative solutions. Bentley, for example, has hired a fleet of cargo planes to be on standby in case of difficulties.
But at Swindon, Honda has a production system that relies on parts arriving exactly when they're needed, typically going directly from the port to the assembly line within hours of landing. If just one component is missing, production cannot continue.
"This primarily has to do with global factors," Michael Gove, the UK government's minister in charge of Brexit negotiations, said regarding Honda's situation. "Inevitably at this time of year, you get people who want to stock up in their warehouses. And I think that there'll be different reasons why people were doing that."
Honda has not provided an update for when Swindon will be back online, but every day the assembly line isn't moving, the automaker is losing money.