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Honda confirms plan to leave Britain with loss of 3,500 jobs

By Jonathan Powell in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-02-20 02:59 申博娱乐注册
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Honda has confirmed its plan to leave Britain as unprecedented global changes affect the car industry and the country prepares to exit the European Union.

The Japanese automaker on Tuesday confirmed it will close its car plant in Swindon, England in 2021, with the loss of about 3,500 jobs.

The company builds 150,000 Honda Civics a year in Swindon, its only car factory in the EU.

Honda said the move was due to global forces that are re-shaping the car industry and the need to launch electric vehicles, but said it had nothing to do with Brexit.

Britain said on Tuesday it was deeply disappointed by Honda's decision to close its only British car plant.

"The UK is one of the leaders in the development of these technologies and so it is deeply disappointing that this decision has been taken now," Business Secretary Greg Clark said.

"This is a devastating decision for Swindon and the UK," Clark said. "This is a commercial decision based on unprecedented changes in the global market."

"The news is a particularly bitter blow to the thousands of skilled and dedicated staff who work at the factory, their families and all of those employed in the supply chain," Clark said, adding that he would convene a "task force" to keep the employees in work.

A fall in demand for diesel cars and tougher emissions regulations have shaken up the car industry.

Ian Howells, senior vice-president for Honda in Europe, told the BBC: "We're seeing unprecedented change in the industry on a global scale. We have to move very swiftly to electrification of our vehicles because of demand of our customers and legislation.

"We've always seen Brexit as something we'll get through, but these changes globally are something we will have to respond to. We deeply regret the impact it will have on the Swindon community."

It comes after a series of car manufacturers including Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover have announced plans to either cut UK jobs or shift production to other countries.

Car manufacturers are dealing with Brexit, the shift to electric cars, plummeting demand for diesel vehicles and a slowdown in key markets such as China.

Like Nissan, Honda stands to benefit from a new trade deal between the EU and Japan, which lowers tariffs on both parties' car exports to zero.

Contact the writer at jonathan@mail.chinadailyuk.com

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