Honda plans to cut 800 jobs at its South Marston plant in England

Article by Anita Panait, on January 11, 2013

Honda is planning to cut around 800 jobs at its South Marston plant near Swindon in England after having posted declining demand across mainland Europe. The carmaker disclosed Friday that it would hold a formal consultation with staff over the job cuts, which will occur by the second quarter of 2013. Honda employs around 3,500 people at the South Marston plant, where it builds the Honda Civic.

Carmakers are hard-pressed to shut down underused plant and cut surplus jobs in Europe, as demand for vehicles in major markets like France and Germany continues to dwindle. Honda Motor Europe's executive vice president Ken Keir said that the Japanese carmaker remains fully committed in the long-term to its UK and European manufacturing operations.

He noted that conditions of sustained low industry demand require Honda to take difficult decisions. He remarked that they are setting the business constitution at the right level to ensure long-term stability and security. In late 2012, Ford disclosed plans to cut 1,400 jobs at plants in southern England and terminate vehicle production in the UK.

Ford and Volvo also intend to cut thousands of jobs in Belgium, while PSA Peugeot Citroen plans to reduce its workforce in France. According to Honda, its UK sales remained strong and it is confident for the long term for both manufacturing and sales in the country.

The SMMT car industry body recently disclosed that new car registrations in the UK surged 5.3 percent in 2012 to 2.04 million. Honda plans to continue building cars and engines in the UK with the Civic Estate and the Civic Type R models due for production in Swindon from 2014.

Compared to the first version that was first unveiled back in 2006, Honda implemented a different type of approach when it came to the layout of the new Civic. Specifically, it makes use of a rather unique platform that is founded on a “center tank” configuration. This makes it meet what customers in the European market look for in a “C” category vehicle. In addition, it offers the practical benefits of offering a large amount of space for its cabin. According to Honda, this was not accidental as the new Civic was developed and designed specifically for the Europe market. Indeed, this new model received excellent response in a number of fields like practicality/versatility and even design.

This has managed to make the present Civic have that excellent road presence given its futuristic looks. The Civic also has that “multi-purpose” function as it has a large boot space and the multiple seat arrangements have those magic seats. No doubt, when compared to its rivals, the present Civic is able to offer better space for the interior and even provide superior trunk capacity.

Honda is now looking into how to make sure it continues to have this class-leading interior space while at the same time enhance the space efficiency and the packaging. The brand revealed as well that when the research officially started, the development team in charge of the new Civic looked at the various milestones that was accomplished with the present Civic.

Further, the team also wanted to improve, or at the very least retain, a number of the qualities present in the current Civic. In terms of design, the goal was to have one that showed emotion while still being able to surprise. There should also be enough room inside and it should include other practical features. Finally, it was also important to make the field of vision wider and the visibility enhanced, and thus improve the overall ownership experience.

All of these different changes on the inside would ultimately mean that the design of the exterior would have to be changed as well. Aerodynamic performance would need to be improved as well with the weight expected to lower as it has an important part to play when it comes to performance.

Topics: honda, uk, plant

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