Honda chief says decision to close UK plant not due to Brexit

More than 3,500 people work at Honda's Swindon plant

Its restructuring is aimed at adjusting its operations to reflect stronger demand in Asia and North America, Hachigo said. "This has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling today's announcement will be for our people".

Honda has previously warned that a no-deal Brexit would cost it tens of millions of pounds.

"They are seeking to consolidate production in Japan", he said.

Many will be quick to pin the blame for Honda's decision to close its Swindon plant exclusively on Brexit, but there are other forces at work.

Swindon is the firm's only factory in the European Union, where it produces 100,000 Civic cars, but it doesn't blame Brexit for the closure.

"Honda, like all other vehicle manufacturers, has a major problem to solve and having a chaotic government that does not seem to care about industry makes it less inclined to try to solve them here", he said, adding that it will be hard for Britain to face the shock.

The trio build half of Britain's cars and hundreds of thousands of engines at production sites across the country, but a no-deal Brexit could destroy the free and unfettered trade manufacturers rely on. The closure of the plant, located in Swindon in the southwest of England, comes amid growing uncertainty about Brexit. By then, Honda might instead start building the next Civic Hatchback in North America.

Honda has been said to prepare an announcement, revealing plans to close its Swindon factory in 2022, which is now producing over 150,000 units per year.

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Honda will also close its Turkish plant, which builds the Civic sedan and produces about 38,000 vehicles a year, but intends to continue sales and marketing operations in the country, Honda said.

"We are facing increasingly severe competition from Chinese and Indian manufacturers", he said.

UK-built products also risk being disadvantaged by a new treaty that will gradually eliminate tariffs on Japanese imports to the EU.

Last month, Britain's biggest automaker Jaguar Land Rover, and Ford Motor Co separately announced sweeping job cuts in Europe.

The decision comes weeks after fellow Japanese car-maker Nissan also dealt a major blow to the United Kingdom when it said it cancelled plans to build its X-Trail at its Sunderland factory.

Greg Clark said even while Honda said Brexit was not to blame for this decision a no deal Brexit would be a "hammer blow" to the industry.

Meanwhile, a new deal between Japan and the European Union means Japanese firms can now enjoy frictionless trade with the bloc without needing to locate here. The significant challenges of electrification will see Honda revise its global manufacturing operations, and focus activity in regions where it expects to have high production volumes. "So, this would support our efforts to make optimal use of our global production network to meet the needs of our customers".

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