Honda to cut 800 jobs from Swindon facility’s workforce

Article by Anita Panait, on February 13, 2013

Honda will be reducing its workforce in the United Kingdom as it sees no signs that the current vehicle sales slump in Europe will reach its end soon enough. The Japanese carmaker plans to reduce its workforce at its Swindon plant in England by 800 jobs. According to analysts, Honda’s problems go beyond the European sales slump, since fellow Japanese carmaker is boosting its workforce and production at its UK plant.

The planned job cuts will be Honda’s first in the UK since commencing production in 1992. Ken Keir, executive vice president of Honda Europe, said that the carmaker’s restructuring is essential to "meet the new reality of the car market."

Keir expected to post weak sales in Europe in the next three years. In 2012, vehicle sales in Europe dropped for the fifth consecutive year. Honda also suffered a 6-percent drop in sales in Europe to 141,019 units, forcing its share to slide to 1.1 percent, according to data from industry association ACEA.

While Honda’s decline was less than the Euroepan market's overall sales drop of 8 percent, it was a far cry from the carmaker’s peak of 311,743 sales in 2007, according to ACEA data. It was also the last year that Honda posted a profit in Europe. According to industry observers, Honda’s sales in 2012 should have received a boost from the rollout of an updated Civic compact as well as of CR-V medium SUV, both of which were produced in Swindon.

IHS Automotive senior analyst Tim Urquhart told Automotive News Europe that Honda is still losing volume with a “very young mainstream model range” in the form of the Civic and the CR-V.  He noted that the “somewhat conservative” styling of the Civic is not helping the vehicle stand out in the market or appeal to new customers.

For 2013, the Honda Civic’s scope of modifications was substantially greater than what a normal mid-model refresh gets. The front and rear style of the 2013 Honda Civic Sedan has been totally changed for a younger and more premium feeling, including changes to the sheet metal including a completely new hood and trunk. In the front, a new open-mouthed bottom bumper with a chrome horizontal accent and a more athletic black honeycombed mesh grille is settled by new combination fog lamps on EX-L and above trims. The grille is bordered by new corner lights with clear lens that give it a more high-quality appearance. The 2013 Civic's more sculptured front streams into a new higher, more deeply recessed hood.

In the back, a crisp chrome horizontal trim caps the new rear bumper design and rear trunk. The brand-new styling of the jewelled taillamps now continues into the face of the trunk, creating a more refined and high-end appearance. The rear bumper has reflector integrated treatments and a new lower diffuser panel topped with a honeycombed mesh vent. While the animated exterior style of the 2013 Honda Civic Coupe stays the same, all models have redesigned wheels to hone the visage of the 2013 Civic.

Made from 55-pecent high-strength steel, the body of the 2013 Honda Civic lowers weight and heightens strength for greater sturdiness. The 2013 Civic's body has had a range of improvements to the front floor, side sill, A-pillar, upper wheel housing, and front bumper extension. The adding of high-strength steel should create more refinement and provide a sturdier structure for the many updates to chassis. Also, the new Civic structure is engineered to assist it in excelling in the new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) small overlap crash test.

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Topics: honda, jobs

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