THE latest Honda to be wheeled off the production line in Swindon has been given a Government seal of approval.
Business secretary Vince Cable was at Honda’s South Marston plant yesterday for the launch of the new CR-V model.
The latest car is part of a £267m investment by Honda into the Swindon plant, in the single biggest investment in its UK manufacturing base for more than decade.
The cash injection has supported the roll out of the new Civic and CR-V, with 500 staff already recruited and trained to deliver the models.
Mr Cable took part in a tour of the works and watched the first finished cars come off the line.
“This investment is great news for Swindon and the automotive sector,” he said. “What is important is that Honda are putting their faith in the UK economy and in the workforce at Swindon.”
Prime Minister David Cameron owns an earlier model of the CR-V, which he has called a ‘beautiful machine’, and when asked if he would be buying the new model, Mr Cable said: “My wife has a Honda Jazz which is a good car. If I was ever going to get a new car this would be on my list.”
Production at the plant is forecast to be double last year’s figure, by up to 183,000 units at the end of the year. Honda aims to increase that figure to 250,000 units per year before 2015.
At the moment there are 45 CR-Vs being produced every day and by the end of November 450 CR-Vs will be produced by the factory daily.
Dave Hodgetts, managing director of Honda UK, said: “It is fantastic for us to have Vince Cable here, and I know the associates are extremely proud.
“I have been in the factory for 20 years and there are always rumours about Honda leaving. But this investment shows the commitment to the Swindon factory.”
Honda has invested more than £1.5bn in its Swindon manufacturing operation to date and also produces the Jazz in the town. The plant was hit by supply difficulties due to the flooding in Thailand last year, which led to hours being reduced in the run-up to Christmas.
The new investment has given associates reassurance about their job security according to project manager Luke Haywood, 42, from Abbey Meads .
He said: “It is really good news, which has come at the right time for us because we have been through a difficult time.
“For me to see the new CR-V being rolled out is like being an expecting father, because of the years of hard work that have gone into this.
“It is a good looking car and we have had a good response to it.”
The investment has also supported the recruitment of 500 new associates, taking the total workforce to 3,500.
One of those is 22-year-old Sean Pooley, of Shrivenham , who started working at the plant three weeks ago.
He said: “I think the investment is good and has provided a lot of new jobs.
“It is exciting to see the car being produced on the line.”
The new Honda CR-V is set to be in car show rooms by the end of next month.