Japanese automaker Honda Motor on Tuesday said it would close its plant in Swindon in southwest England in 2021, which will result in the loss of some 3,500 jobs.
Honda CEO and President Takahiro Hachigo told reporters in Tokyo that the closure of the Swindon plant was not related to Brexit but was part of the restructure in the company's global manufacturing network.
However, the announcement of the closure of the plant, which produces 150,000 cars annually, most of them the popular Honda Civic model, comes amid a chaotic uncertainty over Britain's departure from the European Union.
"This restructure comes as Honda accelerates its commitment to electrified cars, in response to the unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry," the company said in a statement.
"The significant challenges of electrification will see Honda revise its global manufacturing operations, and focus activity in regions where it expects to have high production volumes," it added.
The Swindon plant is Honda's only manufacturing facility in Europe and 90 percent of the cars manufactured there are exported to European countries and the United States.
However, Honda's European headquarters will continue to be located in Bracknell, west of London.
The automaker's operations in Turkey will also be restructured.
Currently, Honda's subsidiary in Turkey produces 38,000 units per year. The company will stop manufacturing the Civic sedan model at the facility in Turkey in 2021 but continue its business operations, according to the statement.
The announcement of the Swindon plant closure comes in the same month in which a free trade pact between Japan and the European Union came into force.
Under the pact, the EU will lift the existing 10 percent tariffs on imported Japanese vehicles in 2027.
The Swindon plant, which began operating in 1989, employs about 3,500 people and accounts for approximately 10 percent of the total automobile production in the United Kingdom.
The decision to shut it down comes after Honda announced last month that it would halt production in the UK for six months from April to address possible disruption caused by logistics and border issues arising from the Britain's exit from the EU, which is scheduled for Mar.29.
The UK government is trying to renegotiate the Brexit deal after the parliament rejected it last month.
On Mar.29, the UK will sever ties with the EU without a transition period if no deal is approved by then.