Japanese auto giant Honda confirmed on Tuesday that it plans to shut a major manufacturing plant in the UK, but insisted that the decision is not related to Brexit.
It had been reported on Monday evening that such a decision would be announced, and so it came to pass, with the company issuing a statement saying it will close its Swindon factory, potentially costing around 3,500 jobs.
“Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd. has today informed employees of its proposal to close its Swindon vehicle manufacturing plant in the UK in 2021, at the end of the current model’s production lifecycle,” the company said.
“The plant currently produces 150,000 cars per year, and employs approximately 3,500 people.”
After the news was first reported on Monday evening, it was widely speculated that the decision to close the plant was a direct result of uncertainty related to Brexit, but the company categorically denied that on Tuesday.
“This decision is not related to Brexit,” Takahiro Hachigo, Honda’s chief executive, said a news conference in Tokyo, according to the Financial Times.
Justin Tomlinson, the MP for North Swindon, where the factory is based, furthered that point of view, telling Reuters: “This is not Brexit-related. It is a reflection of the global market. They are seeking to consolidate production in Japan.”
Honda blamed changing conditions in the global auto market, and cited a desire to “prepare our manufacturing network for the future.”
As well as announcing the Swindon closure, Honda said it will close a production facility in Turkey which employs over 1,000 people, and produces close to 40,000 cars annually.
Honda’s decision to shutter its Swindon plant comes just weeks after fellow Japanese automaker, Nissan, said it will no longer manufacture its X-Trail vehicle at its Sunderland plant.