Honda’S 3,500 employees saw their job prospects soar yesterday with the announcement that two more models will be built at the South Marston factory.
As well as building the Civic, the Jazz and the CR-V, Honda will also be building their sporty Type R and Civic estate here in Swindon.
The news shows confidence in the town’s workforce from the Japanese HQ at Suzuka – last time they built a Type R here in the town it was so good that it was actually exported from here to Japan when it became a modern motoring icon.
Last week at the Paris Motor Show, Honda Motor Europe’s President Manabu Nishimae confirmed that two new models would be built by Honda but did not say where these two new models would be built. However, yesterday it was confirmed that Swindon would be the factory of choice.
But with the two new Civic derivatives coming on-line next year, the production of a new Jazz will not happen in Swindon. Instead, when the new Jazz generation comes online in 2014 it is more than likely to be built in China and Japan. Honda say they only need two centres of production, but the current Jazz will continue to be built in Swindon for the next couple of years.
Unite’s regional organiser, Jim D’Avila, said: “The Swindon factory definitely put its mark on the Jazz so I am sure that we will all be somewhat sad to see it go.
“However, the models may come and go, but what is important is the volume of the models in ensuring people are fully employed.
“The Civic, regardless of model changes, has always proven to be a very trustworthy and reliable vehicle, selling in large numbers. But we have to look at the bigger, strategic issues and ensure there’s always going to be sufficient work for the people that work there. I think, from what is happening within the business, we can comfortably say jobs are safe and we’ve got no fear of any compulsory reductions.”
At the end of this financial year on March 31, Honda’s production in Swindon will be 182,000 – a figure which is unlikely to change for 2013-14, giving full time work for the Associates in Swindon.
The developments come on the back of Honda’s recent announcement of a £267m investment programme in the South Marston plant which supports the new Civic, new CR-V and a new 1.6 litre diesel engine. These new products are core to Honda’s sales activities in Europe.
Sam Tipper, spokesman for Honda in Swindon said: “We are really pleased that we have chosen to build these new cars, here in Swindon.
“It just shows that we have a great workforce here in Swindon which is respected both here, in Japan and around the world.
“We are not announcing how many models we will be building a week, and as far as jobs are concerned, at this present time we employ 3,500 associates and our plan is for that to remain the same. However the new models will help to ensure regular employment at the factory.”
Paul Briggs, the CEO of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group, said: “Honda have pulled the irons out of the fire again for this area. There’s no doubt that they are one of the best employers in the area. But they also have one of the most talented workforces.”