STOCKHOLM -- Autoliv, the world's biggest maker of vehicle safety air bags and seat belts, will close a British assembly plant, cutting 520 jobs and taking $15 million in charges, amid fierce price pressures in the auto industry, it said on Thursday.
The Swedish firm said it would phase out this year the plant in Havant, in southern England, due to a lack of future business in Britain.
About 300 jobs would be moved to other plants in Europe, mainly Turkey, while the remaining jobs, mainly customer support, would be moved to other locations in Britain.
"Although UK volumes remain constant, fewer manufacturers are designing new car models in the UK," Autoliv said in a statement.
It has closed several plants in Europe and the United States in recent years, moving production to countries where labor costs are lower, such as eastern Europe, to cope with mounting price pressures from car makers struggling to cut costs.
The closure would result in a charge of $11 million in the first quarter of this year and an additional $4 million before the second quarter of 2006. The firm would save an equal amount, $15 million, realized in one year, it added.
"The jobs are moving the whole time," Autoliv spokesman Mats Odman said. "Last year we moved 2,500 jobs to low-cost countries but it is unlikely to be as much this year."
In 1999 only a 10th of Autoliv's work force was located in low-cost countries. Today the figure is 35-40 percent.