Last month, Honda announced that it would shut down its Swindon plant in the UK in 2021 when the current-generation Civic runs its course.
That will be a huge blow to the country’s automotive industry as Honda’s facility builds 150,000 cars a year and employs approximately 3,500 people. However, there may be a glimmer of hope for the Swindon plant if a new report turns out to be accurate.
Autocar claims BMW is interested in buying the plant from Honda in order to transfer more vehicle production to the UK. Citing unnamed sources, the report says the German automaker is in discussions to take over the site in 2021 to build the hot-selling X1 there, among other models.
Acquiring the Swindon plant could make sense for BMW which already has a pressing plant near Swindon, an engine plant in Hams Hall, and a vehicle assembly facility in Oxford. BMW is said to be looking at expanding its manufacturing operations in the UK and Honda’s plant could fit perfectly with those plans.
The German company builds Mini vehicles at the Oxford plant but there’s no room for added capacity there which is why BMW also contracts a significant chunk of Mini production to the VDL Nedcar plant in the Netherlands.
Last year, the Dutch plant built more than 200,000 vehicles, including the BMW X1 compact SUV that entered production there in 2017. Demand for the X1, which shares the UKL platform with the Mini model family, is surging: the compact SUV accounts for more than 13 percent of BMW’s global sales.
While BMW refused to comment on the report, opening a new production plant in the UK would make sense post-Brexit as it would reduce the length of supply lines. The carmaker sold around 687,000 UKL-based cars last year, including Minis, BMW X1, X2, and 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer.