Honda’s Swindon plant and workforce are the victims of being “in the wrong place at the wrong time”, according to the firm’s former UK boss Philip Crossman.
Contacted by Autocar, Crossman was managing director of Honda UK from 2013 to 2016 and now consults for the car industry. He said: “A perfect storm has culminated in this devastating decision, and for the people involved it is heart-breaking.
“The one thing I know that didn’t lead to this decision was the quality of the workforce or the facilities at the plant. Honda standards generally are world class - they top quality polls everywhere - and the quality in Swindon was close to the top of all of Honda’s plants.
“The commitment and enthusiasm of the workforce is second to none. They will suffer the fallout from this, of course, but they are in no way to blame for it.”
Instead, Crossman detailed his belief that the decision was likely the result of numerous global and local events that culminated around the need to make a decision on where to make the next generation Honda Civic in around two and a half years’ time.
“Around 30 months before production is when investment decisions need to be made,” said Crossman. “The production cycle meant that it was time to decide what to do next, and that put Swindon in the spotlight at a time when the company was facing a lot of challenges. We all know the conclusion they came to.”
Faced with the decision of whether to invest in the Swindon plant to build the new Civic, Crossman believes that there were five key factors that delivered the final blow to its 3500 workers and the extended supply chain, estimated to total a further 10,000 workers.