Honda is restructuring its Swindon, England, assembly plant to add capacity and flexibility.
The changes are a response to unfavorable monetary exchange rates that have driven several automakers to shift production outside the United Kingdom. Honda favors local production regardless of exchange rates. But a strong British pound against the euro is a severe challenge to that policy.
Since last autumn, Honda of the UK Manufacturing has simplified its production systems at Swindon but simultaneously increased flexibility. Volumes of individual models can be altered faster and less expensively.
Honda increased capacity by 100,000 units annually when Swindon added a second assembly line in September.
When Accord production in the United Kingdom stops this year, the process will be simplified. Honda no longer will build five different models on a single line, just three.
The new assembly line will build three- and five-door versions of a new-generation Civic. The original line will be devoted to the new CR-V, including versions for Europe and the United States.
"We are going for simplicity and reduced complexity," said Mike Godfrey, chief corporate planning engineer. "But we are maintaining the flexibility to increase volumes of one model and to reduce those of another."
Godfrey said it would be possible to switch models between the two assembly lines. But because of sizing issues, it would be easier to move the Civic onto the CR-V line rather than the reverse. But even that could be done quickly, he said.