The confirmation by company president Takahiro Hachigo yesterday that Honda will close its plant in Swindon in southwestern England in 2021 shook British politics within the context of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. Although the link was expressly rejected by Honda, economic analysts and the automotive sector point to it as one of the key factors behind the closure of what is also the only European Honda plant. The move will mean the direct loss of 3,500 jobs, and 3,500 more in auxiliary companies in the area. The plant manufactures around 100,000 Honda Civic vehicles every year, 90% of which are sold in the rest of Europe and the United States.
In a statement, the company said that the main reason for its departure was the turn towards the manufacture of electric vehicles: “In light of the unprecedented changes that affect our industry, it is vital that we accelerate the strategy of electrification and restructure our global activities”. Thus, Honda is redirecting its investment and seeking to get closer to its largest markets, the US, China and Japan. For the British government, this “commercial decision” is “devastating.” The announcement aggravates the fear that more multinationals will leave due to “Brexit”, with Nissan, Ford and Jaguar plants all affected.