Japanese manufacturer announces plans to scale down its shift patterns in Swindon, resulting in the potential loss of hundreds of jobs

Honda is slashing production at its factory in Swindon, resulting in the potential loss of 340 jobs. 

Company officials blame poor growth in Europe as the reason behind the move, with vice president Ian Howells reporting that "over the last 12 months, we haven't seen the growth we expected".

The planned cuts include 160 temporary positions, putting a sizeable dent in the 3000-strong workforce based at the Swindon factory. Cars produced at the site include the Civic, Civic Tourer, Jazz and CR-V. As of next year, the new Civic Type R will also be made at the site.

Unions have reacted to the news, with a spokesman for Unite saying it was "very bad news". As well as cutting shifts at the plant down from three to two, Honda is also moving all production to single line in order to increase efficiency.

This isn't the first time Honda has had to cut its UK workforce. The Japanese car maker announced plans in January last year to cut up to 800 jobs from its UK operations. In the end, that figure was reduced to around 550 voluntary redundancies, and 38 compulsory. 

Honda is forecasting that although the Swindon plant has the capacity to build some 250,000 cars annually, it plans to make just 120,000 units this year. The site made 140,094 cars in 2013, down from 165,607 units in 2012.

The company blames continuing difficulties in mainland Europe for the drop in production, even though its sales in the UK are currently up by over four per cent on last year.

In a statement, Howells said: "With no increase forecasted for the next couple of years, we must scale our manufacturing activity accordingly.

“However, with the restructuring we’re taking today, and our new model plans, we remain confident in the long-term future of our Swindon plant.

“Our Swindon operation continues to be the hub for our European car manufacturing activity.” 

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17

25 March 2014
I feel very sorry for the Honda workers. They make high quality cars. But the cars are also ugly and unappealing. And generally expensive.

The Jazz has been replaced in other parts of the world, but they are stuck making the old model.

The Civic has to be the worst face lift in motoring history.

The new estate is too little too late, even if it does improve on the Civic hatch.

The only half decent car they make is the CR-V, but many on here have said they dont like its looks.

Others do what Honda do SO much better now, for less money, with more choice of engines.

Honda need to invest in Europe, and offer some competitive cars. I cant be alone in being a current Honda owner who wouldnt consider anything they sell now.

25 March 2014
.... but not altogether surprised given their current range of cars. They seem to wilfully make their cars look odd and awkward, particularly the interiors which are fussy and messy looking. I'd think artlii above has hit the nail on the head with his analysis. My sister had a Jazz for a year or so but found it uncomfortable and harsh riding, although solidly built, and it seemed expensive for what it was. She decided to change to a Yeti which is great. The only Honda that seems common around this part of the world (Cheltenham/Gloucester area) is the CR-V.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

25 March 2014
It is a sad that Honda appears to be left behind, with diminishing output from Swindon ,to under half the capacity. TheUk business has been let down by poor unattractive design, not particularly liked.It also has an old image.
New and innovative design language is required for them .Do not know how they sell 4 million worldwide though.

25 March 2014
I am not sure for other countries but I know for a fact that the Americans perceive Honda as a "premium" brand and will readily choose one of their cars over say a comparable American option. This is why their global sales figure is so high.
They have annoyed me in the press how they've had a bit of a go at how the economy isn't growing at the rate the Government says it has and therefore people haven't got the cash to spend on new cars as their salaries aren't increasing. Rubbish, total rubbish! New car registrations are up again and whether they care to admit it publicly (which they probably don't), they know full well they're struggling because they've gone right off the boil with their latest round of models. I think the Jazz is a good car but the Civic has been ruined (still can't quite understand how they've managed to such a poor job) and sadly the new CRV is very expensive for what it is and its rivals now fare better. And as others have said - the list prices are too high. I remember the Accord around 5 years ago being very expensive even as a company car and it looks like they've gone up a notch - perhaps because their UK manufacturing costs compared to manufacturing elsewhere are a lot higher.
They're being hit by a double whammy from their rivals really - the likes of Kia/Hyundai now offer more for less and of comparable quality whilst the Germans with their significant platform sharing are coming down in price. I am pretty sure the CRV's are coming in around the early 30k's which for that money you have a LOT of choice including from the Germans.
PS, I do think the new CTR looks immense and it'll more than likely be fantastic - but probably too niche to help the bigger issue.

25 March 2014
Have to agree with the comments above about the styling of the current range, and, from what I've seen, the forthcoming new Jazz seems to continue this theme. Also, some of the models, the Civic Tourer in particular, appear rather expensive when compared to rivals.

25 March 2014
In the cut-throat world of car-making, it is simply a matter of keep up or fall behind which inevitably leads to slashing the shifts and laying off the staff. Honda is not new to the game.
Yet like some other Japanese car makers they became complacent. No question over Honda's reliability but when did you last see an exciting Honda?

25 March 2014
Honda's UK business is but a pin-prick on their global operation map. There's a chain of Honda dealers in Southern California who sell more cars annually than the whole of the UK.
The criticism of Honda's indifferent UK range is valid, but we're simply not a priority market for them. We get the 'safe bets', and little else right now. Occasionally an intriguing car comes to the UK - H-RV, S2000, NSX, but right now there's no UK 'halo car'. The CR-V is credible, but too expensive for a 5-seat non-premium SUV.

Honda are also currently lacking competitive cars in several popular UK sectors, namely crossover, city car and MPV. They have a promising looking crossover coming in 2015, the Vezel, which could compete with Qashqai.
They've brought three fine MPVs to the UK in the past, Shuttle, Stream and FR-V, none of which didnt set the showrooms alight. (Although the main dealer prices on good used FR-Vs suggest that car is now highly popular)

Ironically, they have good engines and transmissions in the UK right now, the 1.6 diesel, IMA Hybrids and new small turbo petrols to come. Hopefully the 2015 Vezel will restore some of that Honda 'jewel' qualities the current line-up lacks.

Sulphur Man

25 March 2014
I'm sorry to hear this. I'm a Honda owner, we're on our 2nd CR-V, but we won't be replacing it with the new one when our current one goes back in the summer. I think the new one does everything ours does, but a little bit better, but the looks are a deal breaker. We've been extremely happy with our choice over the last 6 years but the latest generation does nothing for us. I'm afraid the Koreans now do a better job of building Hondas than Honda do.


25 March 2014
bomb wrote:

I'm sorry to hear this. I'm a Honda owner, we're on our 2nd CR-V, but we won't be replacing it with the new one when our current one goes back in the summer. I think the new one does everything ours does, but a little bit better, but the looks are a deal breaker. We've been extremely happy with our choice over the last 6 years but the latest generation does nothing for us. I'm afraid the Koreans now do a better job of building Hondas than Honda do.

Very much in the same boat.. when mine goes later this year Honda have nothing to offer me. The new CRV of comparable spec is near £5K dearer than mine was yet its virtually the same apart from a few needless gizmos.

My employer 'fines' me for going over a certain CO2 level, Honda's answer was a 1.6 2WD CRV 'SUV' which is pointless in my mind.

As you say the Koreans make more sense, I had an IX35 loan car for 2 weeks and felt very at 'home from home' in it except it was quieter, comfier seats and £6K cheaper. Enough off the lease price to offset the CO2 penalty.

Or a Mazda CX-5 gives the Honda a spanking not least on price again.

Ultimately it will probably be a Nissan Qashqai, now a useful size and available in 4WD at a CO2 level that avoids my employers penalty charge.

As to the rest, Civic felt the most uncomfortable thing ever, Jazz good for a limited market, Accord beaten by most brands easily, what else is there?

25 March 2014
Sulphur Man is right - there are a lot of great cars they offer elsewhere in the world - we really do get the raw end of the deal!

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