Honda has confirmed it will close its Swindon car plant in 2021, with the loss of about 3,500 jobs.
The Japanese company builds 160,000 Honda Civics a year in Swindon, its only car factory in the EU, reports BBC.
Honda said the move was due to global changes in the car industry and the need to launch electric vehicles, and it had nothing to do with Brexit.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said the decision was “devastating” for Swindon and the UK.
A fall in demand for diesel cars and tougher emissions regulations have shaken up the car industry.
Ian Howells, senior vice-president for Honda in Europe, told the BBC: “We’re seeing the unprecedented change in the industry on a global scale. We have to move very swiftly to electrification of our vehicles because of the demand of our customers and legislation.
“This is not a Brexit-related issue for us, it’s being made on the global-related changes I’ve spoken about.
“We’ve always seen Brexit as something we’ll get through, but these changes globally are something we will have to respond to. We deeply regret the impact it will have on the Swindon community.”
Mr Howells said that, in the light of changes in the industry, the company had to “look very closely” at where it was putting its investment. “It has to be in a marketplace of a size for Honda, where it makes investment worthwhile.
“The conclusion coming out of that is that that doesn’t include Swindon – the relative size of the marketplace in Europe is significantly different.”
Honda said it would begin consulting immediately about the proposed closure with potentially affected employees.
A union source told reporters that Honda had sent the workforce at its Swindon factory home for the day.
Honda also announced it would stop making the Civic at its plant in Turkey in 2021. Its European HQ will continue to be located in the UK after the changes.
Earlier this month, Nissan switched plans to build its X-Trail SUV from the UK to Japan.
At that time the firm’s Europe chairman, Gianluca de Ficchy, said that “the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship
with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future”.