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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
report honda set to shutter uk plant home of the civic type r

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]

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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.

  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
  • Chris P Bacon I've always liked the looks of the Clubman, especially the original model. But like a few others here, I've had the Countryman as a rental, and for the price point, I couldn't see spending my own money on one. Maybe with a stick it would be a little more fun, but that 3 cylinder engine just couldn't provide the kick I expected.
  • EBFlex Recall number 13 for the 2020 Explorer and the 2020 MKExplorer.
  • CEastwood Every time something like this is mentioned it almost never happens because the auto maker is afraid of it taking sales away from an existing model - the Tacoma in this instance . It's why VW never brought the Scirrocco and Polo stateside fearful of losing Golf sales .
  • Bca65698966 V6 Accord owner here. The VTEC crossover is definitely a thing, especially after I got a performance tune for the car. The loss of VTEC will probably result in a slower vehicle overall for one reason: power under the curve. While the peak horsepower may remain the same, the amount of horsepower and torque up to that peak may be less overall. The beauty of variable cam lift is not only the ability to gain more power at upper rpm’s on the “big cam”, but the ability to gain torque down low on the “small cam”. Low rpm torque gets the vehicle moving and then big horsepower at upper rpm’s gains speed. Having only one cam profile is now introducing a compromise versus the VTEC setup. I guess it’s possible that with direct injection they are able to keep the low rpm torque there (I’ve read that DI helps with low rpm torque) but I’m skeptical it will match a well tuned variable lift setup.