Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co. is set to shut down its plant in Swindon, England, in 2022, according to multiple media reports. The automaker is known to make its popular Civic model at this plant and the move will put over 3,500 jobs at risk.
Sky News journalist Mark Kleinman broke the news on Twitter and said that the company would make the announcement on Tuesday, February 19. While the company is likely to shutter the plant, its European HQ will remain in the UK.
Honda hasn't specifically spoken of its decision saying that it would not make a comment "at this stage," but lawmaker Justin Tomlinson confirmed the news through a series of tweets. "We take our responsibilities to our associates very seriously and will always communicate any significant news with them first," Honda said in a statement.
Tomlinson shed light on the reports and said that Honda had decided to shut down the Swindon plant due to global business trends. He said that he had spoken to the officials at the firm who explained that the decision "is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021."
He added: "Honda will be consulting with all staff and there is not expected to be any job losses or changes in production until 2021."
The Swindon plant is known to be a busy one with about 100,000 Civic cars being produced for the global market. In fact, Ian Howells, Honda Europe's senior vice-president, even earlier told the BBC that the carmaker planned to convert the particular plant into a global production hub for the civic.
The UK forms part of our global network of manufacturing plants, so the only place we produce the vehicle we produce at Swindon is in Swindon itself, he had said. "The logistics of moving a factory the size of Swindon would be huge and as far as we're concerned, we're right behind supporting continued production at Swindon."
Even though Honda may have specified that the move was a business decision, many believe that companies have increasingly grown jittery around the looming Brexit on March 29. This had resulted in many brands moving out of the UK or deferring their investment plans in the region.
Just a few days ago, Nissan said that it had cancelled its plans to build a new SUV at its plant in Sunderland, England. While the Japanese company said that it had made the decision "for business reasons," it did explain that "the continued uncertainty around the U.K.'s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future," reported USA Today.
Ford has also said that if the Brexit went through without a deal on future relations, it would be "catastrophic for the U.K. auto industry and Ford's manufacturing operations in the country." The company also spoke British prime minister Theresa May and said that that it may move some production out of the country due to Brexit, a source told the Irish Times.