The UK car industry has received another body blow with confirmation that Honda will close its Swindon factory in two years time. The Japanese brand employs 3,500 workers at the 33-year-old site, but said that after consultation with the UK Government, "no viable alternatives to the proposed closure of the Swindon plant have been identified." The facility will shut when the current Civic's life cycle comes to an end.
That means of course that the UK-built Honda Civic Type R will be no more, closing a remarkable chapter that gave Swindon exclusive global rights to all Civic production from 2015. Prior to that, the sprawling facility was the producer of Type R models since 2001, having first built a Civic back in 1994. The site has grown to such significance these days that Honda employs fully two per cent of Swindon's population - and in many cases, two generations from the same family.
Honda says it is pulling production out of Britain - and indeed Europe as a whole - due to its wider global strategy which place increasing significance on the modular construction and electrification. The company said earlier this year that significant changes to its resources and production structure would be made, and that the workforce would be focused on regions where customer demand is highest.
It will be scant consolation to the employees of the Swindon factory that slowing demand in Europe has contributed much to the decision. The staff can justifiably point to 70 countries that received its produce, and wonder why nothing more could be done for a factory which has produced 3.5m cars in its lifetime. Naturally we'll mourn the loss of the British-built Type R - coincidentally among the best hot hatches ever made - but really our thoughts and commiserations lay with 3,500 families now effectively placed on two years notice. Semper fi, guys.