TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Honda Motor Co (7267.T) is investing 267 million pounds ($424.9 million) in building new models and engines at its Swindon plant in Britain, the automaker said on Thursday, in an effort to rebuild its ailing European business.
Honda, which has seen three straight year of losses in Europe, aims to be profitable in Europe in 2013/14, when 80 percent of cars sold in the market will be sourced from the Swindon plant.
Imports into Europe presently make up 40 percent of Honda’s sales in the region.
Honda plans to produce 183,000 vehicles at the Swindon factory in 2012, double the 2011 total, and bring the plant to full capacity to make 250,000 vehicles annually within three years, it said in a statement.
Honda said it has already started to invest part of the 267 million pounds in buying new production equipment such as presses and robotics.
Honda produces the CR-V SUV, the Civic small car and the Jazz subcompact as well as engines at the Swindon plant.
Britain is now exporting more cars than it imports for the first time since 1976, and securing increased production by foreign-owned carmakers based in Britain has been one of the few bright spots in a drive to boost manufacturing in the country.
About 60 percent of production from the Swindon plant will be exported, Honda said.
Reporting by Yoko Kubota, Rhys Jones; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford