Honda Could Shift More Production to US

The automaker says it closed its lone U.K. factory amid plans to produce the next generation of Civics closer to its North American customers.

When Honda announced last week that it would be closing its assembly plant in the English city of Swindon, most were quick to point the finger at Brexit — the U.K.’s rocky, impending breakup with the EU that’s been blamed for hampering the supply chains of many global businesses.

But according to Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo, it’s not Brexit, but simply timing: the Swindon plant, maker of the five-door Civic hatchback, is wrapping up production on the current generation and Honda is taking the opportunity to shift course and produce the vehicles in a more strategic location.

Americans bought more than 325,000 Civics last year, and nearly a third of those were imported from Honda’s European plants.

Hachigo says as part of the company’s efforts to “optimize production allocation and production capacity on a global scale,” that includes producing North America’s Civics actually in North America. This shift also includes ceasing production of Civic sedans in a plant in Turkey, which was previously churning out 38,000 per year.

Current North American Civic production takes place in Ontario and Greensburg, Ind., and Civic engines are also produced in Anna, Ohio. There’s no word at this point as to where Honda intends to add this capacity, but CNet says the future for the next-gen Civic Hatchback is actually kind of bright in the U.S., where consumers are, in general, shunning most small cars.

Though Civic purchases were down 14 percent last year, the Civic Hatchback actually beat Honda’s sales projections, and now the hatchback variants comprise 20 percent of the company’s Civic sales volume.

— by Anna Wells

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