(Private limited company)
|Defunct||30 July 2021|
(Managing Director, Honda UK)
(Director, Honda UK Manufacturing)
Number of employees
|Parent||Honda Motor Co., Ltd (1985-March 2021)|
Panattoni (March-July 2021)
Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd (informally HUM) is a moribund British automotive manufacturing company, and the United Kingdom-based manufacturing subsidiary of the multinational automotive company Honda. Based in Swindon, England, HUKM operates manufacturing plants that include casting, engine assembly, pressing, welding, painting, and car assembly activities. It employs around 3,400 people at the plants, which occupy a site covering around 370 acres.
Honda has made a total investment of over £1.5 billion in the Swindon plants. In 2008, HUKM produced 230,423 cars. By 2016 annual unit production was down to 134,146 units, although this still represented an increase of 12.3% over the figure for 2015. In early 2019, it was announced the entire manufacturing plant in Swindon would close, which was later confirmed by Honda. The plant is set to close on 30 July 2021.
Having gained ground in the United Kingdom with its popular range of motorcycles during the 1960s, Honda first imported cars to the United Kingdom in 1972, when the original Civic was launched, going on sale at a time when Japanese-built cars (particularly Nissan's range of Datsun badged models) were enjoying a surge in sales. The larger Accord joined the range in 1976, followed by the Prelude coupe in 1979.
In 1980, Honda entered a venture with British Leyland in order to build Honda-based designs in BL factories. The first product of this venture was the 1981 Triumph Acclaim, which was produced for three years until it was replaced by the Rover 200 Series; both cars were based on the Honda Ballade.
In the meantime, the two companies worked together on "Project XX", first announced in 1980 as a new medium-sized luxury saloon due for a mid-1980s launch. This evolved into the Rover 800 Series, launched in 1986, and based on the Japanese-built Honda Legend.
Around the same time, Honda agreed for BL/Austin Rover to build versions for the UK of its Ballade saloon alongside the Rover 200 Series at Longbridge. The Ballade's successor, the Concerto, was also built at Longbridge, and was based on the second generation Rover 200 Series.
In 1985, Honda acquired the South Marston site on the northeastern outskirts of Swindon. The site had been used during the Second World War for aircraft production by Phillips & Powis and Short Brothers, and later by Vickers-Armstrongs-Supermarine; its selection in 1938 took into account the presence of the skilled workforce at the Swindon Works of the Great Western Railway. The 370-acre (150 ha) site straddles the boundary between the parishes of Stratton St Margaret and South Marston.
HUM was established in 1985, and production at the engine plant began in 1989. In 1992, production of the Honda Accord (which had the same design as the Rover 600 Series but different engines) began in Swindon, and a second engine line was installed. In 1994, production of the Honda Civic began in Swindon; in the same year, the Rover-Honda venture ended due to BMW's takeover of Rover. Despite this, the 1995 Rover 400 Series was based on the new Honda Civic.
In August 2000, it was reported that UK-manufactured Honda cars would be exported to Japan for the first time. In the same year, the plant began production of the CR-V SUV, which had been sold since 1997 in the UK. In September 2001, HUM opened a second car assembly plant in Swindon, adding two hundred jobs and increasing capacity to 250,000 vehicles a year. The plant started production of the Civic Type R. In December 2001, workers at the Swindon plants voted to form a union, and be represented by the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union.
In 2002, Swindon began export to North America and production of the Accord ended, with the new model being imported from Japan. In October 2002, Ken Keir, managing director of HUM, stated that Honda would maintain vehicle production in the United Kingdom, irrespective of whether or not it joined the Eurozone.
In 2003, the plant produced its one millionth vehicle.
In September 2006, it was announced that Honda would be recruiting an additional seven hundred workers for the Swindon plants, and raising production of vehicles at the site by 32% to 250,000 per year.
In February 2008, it was announced that Honda would be making an £80 million investment in new production facilities at the Swindon site, for the manufacture of plastic car parts and metal castings for engines. In that year the plant produced its two millionth vehicle.
On 30 January 2009, due to the recession, which had caused a fall in sales, it was announced that direct workers at the Swindon site would be laid off for four months until 1 June, with full pay for the first two months of the period and about half-pay for the remainder. Employees in the indirect staff or maintenance categories would instead lose approximately £1,500 and remain at work.
In October 2009, HUM began production of the Honda Jazz, which until then had been imported from Japan. Production of the Jazz continued until 2014, when it was replaced by a new model from Japan.
In September 2012, Honda announced a £267 million investment programme at the Swindon site, to support the introduction of new models of the Civic and CR-V, and a new 1.6 litre diesel engine. The investment would take total investment at the site to around £1.5 billion, and would increase the workforce to 3,500.
Honda planned to invest £200 million ($300 million) to turn Swindon into the global production hub of the next generation of the Civic five-door hatchback, providing about half of its production for export markets. It would bring cumulative investment in the plant to over £2.2 billion. As part of the plan, the plant would stop production of the CR-V. In 2018, production of the CR-V ended after making 1,209,174 vehicles.
The trade deal between Japan and the European Union, agreed in July 2017 and signed off in July 2018, put an end to import tariffs on car imports between the two economic zones. These had formed a significant part of the rationale for building the plant in 1985; what were termed by government as "Brexit uncertainties" after the 2016 referendum contributed further to doubt about the future of the plant. In February 2019, Honda announced that the plant would close in 2021, with the loss of about 3,500 jobs in the area, and production shifting to Japan, North America and China. The plant was already projected to close for six days in April as part of its Brexit preparations. In December 2020, production was halted temporarily as there was a delay in parts deliveries.
Honda announced in March 2021 that the site had been sold to Panattoni, an American industrial real estate developer, who would use it for a large-scale logistics operation.