Report: Honda Set to Shutter UK Plant, Home of the Civic Type R

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Honda builds Civics in a number of locales, but Americans know of Honda’s Swindon, UK assembly plant mainly because of the Civic Type R. After years spent shunning the North American market, the automaker finally sent ships loaded with hi-po front-drivers across the Atlantic for the 2017 model year.

Swindon handles production of all Civic hatch models, leaving plants in the U.S. and Canada to handle sedan and coupe builds. It seems all those hatches, hot and less so, will need to find a new home after 2021.

According to news reports out of the UK, Honda appears ready to announce Swindon’s closure on Tuesday. The BBC, citing sources, reports that 3,500 workers could be out of work — and the country’s status as a major car producer further marginalized — when the plant closes in 2022.

Though its only UK plant will close, the automaker plans to retain its European headquarters in Bracknell, Berkshire, sources claim.

After speaking with Honda, Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson (the member of North Swindon) stated in a tweet that the company is consulting with staff, adding, “there is not expected to be any job losses, or changes in production until 2021.”

While Brexit, as well as the looming possibility of new tariffs, is top of mind for many onlookers as the reason for Honda’s consolidation of Euro-market Civic production in Japan, other factors exist for the move.

Two years ago, Honda announced plans to return Civic production to Japan after a multi-year absence. With the North American market soaking up more crossovers and fewer passenger cars, bringing Civic production to Japan would free up plant space for more profitable (and popular) vehicles in that region. At the time, Kimiyoshi Teratani, head of Honda’s Japanese operations, was tight-lipped about the possibility of U.S.-bound Japanese Civics. It makes sense for the European market, though, and not just because of the possibility of a no-deal Brexit or new U.S. tariffs.

As Autocar reports, the European Union recently moved to scrap tariffs on Japanese-built cars, reducing the appeal of local production.

What will become of the Civic hatch and Type R? Honda could resume production in Japan — the Type R’s 306-horsepower engine originates in an Ohio factory, so its availability isn’t in danger. Alternatively, as one Bozi Tatarevic suggests, the company could swap the Type R badge to a North American-made sedan.

[Image: Honda]

Steph Willems
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  • EquipmentJunkie EquipmentJunkie on Feb 18, 2019

    Back in 1990, I studied international business in Europe. I was in a total of 9 countries. Each country was quite nationalistic when it came to vehicles. Generally speaking, Germans drove German brands. The French drove French brands. UK drivers drove a lot of Fords and Vauxhalls, both brands having a long history in the UK. I returned to France, Germany and the UK about 20 years later. The effects of the EU Common Market was quite evident. Nationalism of auto brands all but disappeared. Hyundai and Kia were there in full force...but Japanese brands on the roads were notably scarce. I asked a family friend from France about my observation. The loose translation was that Japanese brands appealed to cheapskates. This Swindon plant seemed to help UK Honda sales in years past, but the handwriting has been on the wall for a while.

    • See 3 previous
    • Bd2 Bd2 on Feb 19, 2019

      Interesting enough, H/K in Europe do best in Germany and other Germanic countries such as Austria and Switzerland (putting aside the Italian region), including England and France. Toyota does the best out of the Japanese brands due to having the biggest hybrid lineup and Nissan is saved from Honda's fate due to the Qashqai.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Feb 18, 2019

    May be it is MJGA syndrome - bring jobs back to Japan? On serious note AFAIK Hondas are too expensive and too boring to worth the price they asking in Europe. In Europe you do not depend on car for living so reliability is not much an issue and German cars are pretty reliable for European type of usage.

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    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Feb 20, 2019

      @highdesertcat I think it is even worse in LA. New rich.

  • Lou_BC "respondents between 18 and 80 years old" Basically anyone deemed an adult who might be allowed to drive.
  • Lou_BC They will do fine if they come up with some cool sedans ;)
  • Mister They've got their work cut out for them. I live in a large metropolitan city of 1.2+ million people, the is a single Mitsubishi dealer. It's really more like a used-car dealer that sells Mitsubishi on the side. With the remarkably cheesy name of "Johnny Legends".
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh WHAT !?
  • Jeff Matt--I think this is a good move for Mitsubishi to expand their presence with satellite dealers. I had a 85 MItsubishi Mighty Max and my sister had a 83 MItsubishi Starion. MItsubishi needs to add a compact pickup to compete with the Maverick and the Santa Cruz but offer it for less. A smaller more affordable truck will sell. I believe MItsubishi should still offer an inexpensive subcompact like the Mirage it will sell in a slowing car market with high msrps. Yes I know the Mirage is probably going to be canceled but I believe in these times it is a mistake and they should reconsider cancelling the Mirage. Toyota is having problems selling the new redesigned Tacomas and Tundras with the turbo 4s and 6s. Most Tacomas have MSRPs of well over 40k. There is room for MItsubishi to grow their market share with more affordable vehicles. I am not saying Mitsubishi is going to overtake Toyota, Honda, or Nissan but they should take advantage of the more affordable market segment that these companies for the most part have abandoned. MItsubishi doesn't have to be the biggest just increase sales and become more profitable.
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