LONDON -- Honda will significantly reduce production costs on its next European Civic compact hatchback by basing it on a global platform.
Honda will launch its next-generation Civic five-door in Europe in 2017. Like the current car, it will be built at the automaker’s plant in Swindon, England. The hatchback will be exported to the U.S. and other markets outside Europe for the first time.
Switching to a global platform for the car instead of European-specific underpinnings will drive down parts prices, said Honda’s head of purchasing in Swindon, Jim Harris. “There will be a significant difference in cost to build the new Civic,” he said.
Honda said the Swindon plant will build about 120,000 units a year of the new Civic, of which half will go to European markets. Of the current Civic production, 90 percent is sold into Europe.
Honda recently announced a 200 million pound upgrade for the factory to prepare the plant to export Civic hatchbacks to the U.S., as well as Japan and Australia.
The automaker has struggled to fill the 250,000 annual capacity at the factory and last year shuttered one of two production buildings on site, cutting the year’s production to 119,995 cars.
By exporting the Civic hatchback globally, Honda will lessen the impact from losing production of the CR-V crossover and Jazz subcompact. Production of the Jazz will end in the summer when the new Japan-built model arrives in Europe, while CR-V production will stop at the end of 2016 after which the crossover will be built for European markets in Honda’s factory in Ontario, Canada.
The production shift will end Honda’s practice of making cars for the region on European-specific platforms, Harris said. “We have been building completely unique cars. For example the CR-V uses a crash structure different to the U.S. car,” he said.
Part of the latest investment will go toward updating the press and body shop. “There is a different type of method to bring the car body together,” Harris said, without going into detail.