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Honda to Close Its Only British Car Plant in 2021, but Says It's Not Because of Brexit

Photo: Matt Cardy (Getty Images)
The Morning Shift All your daily car news in one convenient place. Is not your time more important?

Honda plans to close its only car plant in the UK, the European Union says it will fight back in a trade war with the US, Carlos Ghosn gets ready for trial, General Motors puts its money where its SUVs are, and McLaren stands by its anti-SUV mindset. All of this and more in The Morning Shift for Tuesday, Feb. 19th, 2019.

1st Gear: Honda Plans to Exit Production in the U.K.

We're about a month away from U.K. leaving the European Union, and Honda just happened to confirm its 2021 expiration date on its only British car plant in Swindon-along with the loss of up to 3,500 jobs, according to Reuters. But Reuters reports that Honda said that the decision is definitely, totally not related to Brexit, despite its convenient timing.

Instead, Honda said the closure is more about the fact that the company has not done well. Here's more, from Reuters:

But the timing of the announcement, just 38 days before Brexit, comes amid the deepening of Japanese corporate worries. Honda Chief Executive Takahiro Hachigo said "This decision was not informed by Brexit."

"We had to consider the rise of electrified vehicles, and the various speeds at which "

Honda, which builds its Civic car in Britain and Turkey, said it would stop making the model in both countries.

The Swindon plant makes a huge portion of car production in Britain, with Reuters reporting that it is responsible for 10 percent of the car industry. cars built in the country. In 2018, the story told Swindon built 160,000 vehicles.

That makes the closure "a devastating decision for Swindon and the UK," the story quoted UK business minister Greg Clark as saying, and Reuters reports that the country's largest trade union, Unite, said it would

2nd Gear: European Union Says It'll Retalate If the US Put Tariffs on Imported Vehicles

In more cheery developments in the world, the European Union has said it will not just sit back and take it if the U.S. puts tariffs on imported vehicles.

Reuters reports that a confidential report from the U.S. Commerce Department sent to President Donald Trump recently could make way for him to put tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts by naming them a national security threat.

But while the story told Trump promised the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker he would not impose tariffs for the time being and Juncker said he believes it the EU seems ready to take retaliation if it does not go as planned.

From Reuters:

"Trump has given me his word that there will be no car tariffs for the time being. I view this commitment as something you can rely on, "Juncker told a German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung in an interview. However, the EU would react immediately and not feel obliged to stick to its promise to buy more soybeans and liquid gas from the United States.

Bloomberg cited the Ifo Institute in reporting that tariffs of 25 percent could drop German exports to the US by 50 percent, and total European exports by 7.7 percent. Here's more, from Bloomberg:

The car dispute follows American tariffs for European steel and aluminum imports, brought with the same national-security justification. The bloc retaliated imposing duties on 2.8 billion euros of U.S. import ranging from Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles to levi strauss & co. jeans.

U.S. tariffs on European cars would mark a significant escalation of trans-Atlantic tensions, because the value of EU automotive exports to the American market is about 10 times greater than the bloc's steel and aluminum exports. As a result, European retaliatory duties would target a larger amount of U.S. export to Europe.

A 25 percent U.S. According to the Commission, the tax on foreign cars would add 10,000 euros to the sticker price of European vehicles imported into the country. That would especially affect German brands such as Volkswagen, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

Bloomberg reports that the 25-percent tariff would add 10,000 euros or 11,300 dollars at current exchange rates to imported European vehicle stickers according to the the European Commission.

3rd Gear: Ghosn Gets Ready for Trial

Carlos Ghosn is still locked up over his company's allegations of financial misconduct since November having been denied bail under his former legal team. With

Ghosn, who formerly headed Renault a trial coming up this year and the potential to get up to 10 years in prison, Bloomberg reports, he is overhauling his legal team and getting ready for a fight. ] and was a chairman both at Nissan and Mitsubishi, went to jail after allegations of financial misconduct from Nissan. The issue caused a lot of strain on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, but Renault, which kept Ghosn as CEO long after Nissan and Mitsubishi dropped to him, even allegedly recently that they found evidence of financial misconduct.

For Ghosn, though, it's time for the legal battle. Bloomberg reports that with a legal system in Japan, which has a 99 percent conviction rate facing him, Ghosn has completely reworked his legal team last week, including adding a leading lawyer nicknamed "The Razor."

From Bloomberg:

He replaced a group led by former local prosecutor Motonari Otsuru with one overseen by Junichiro Hironaka, who is known for aggressive tactics defending high profile clients such as former bureaucrat accused of corruption. Hironak will hold his first press conference as Ghosn's lawyer on Wednesday.

"It was a mistakable decision, because he's not the type of lawyer who will take a protest stance against the prosecutors and could not maintain a relationship of trust with Ghosn," said Nobuo Gohara, an attorney and former prosecutor in Japan.

Ghosn's defense team includes Takashi Takano, who represented a member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult behind the 1995 Sarin gas attack in Tokyo.

A Tokyo -based defense lawyer quoted by Bloomberg, Nobuko Otsuki, called Takano and Hironaka "all-stars."

4th Gear: GM Invests $ 36 Million Into Future SUV Production in Michigan

Most of the General The Detroit Free Press reports that the company is putting $ 36 million into its Lansing Delta Township plant in Michigan . ] for its future crossover and SUV production.

That goes well with GM's idea of ​​"investing in the future" -or at least the present, since crossovers and SUVs are what people want right now.

The Lansing Delta Township pl On builds both Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave SUVs, and the Freep reports that opened in 2006, It's GM's newest plant and has about 2600 employees. The plant has also been According to the Freep:

The investment comes as GM is tired of five of its other factories in North America this year, affecting 6,200 jobs, as part of a restructuring plan that includes the elimination of A total of 8,000 white-collar jobs, through buyouts, contractor cuts and involuntary layoffs.

The UAW lauded the investment.

"The membership of UAW Local 602 is under the leadership of UAW Region 1D Director Gerald Kariem and They applaud this investment on behalf of the whole workforce and the community, "said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes in a statement. "Delta Township builds the world class Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave. We in the UAW look forward to more investments like this from General Motors, so they can build where they sell. "

Since 2009, GM has invested more than $ 600 million into the plant. In 2015, GM said it would invest $ 5.4 billion in U.S. plant improvements over the next three years.

GM CEO Mary Barra called the Traverse and Enclave important products in the company's "growing crossover portfolio" and said the investment will help "prepare the plant for future crossover production."

5th Gear : McLaren Will Resist

You know how in the Terminator movies, the faction of the human population still fighting the inevitable robot takeover is aptly named "Resistance"? Well, McLaren is the Resistance in the automotive industry, still fighting the inevitable takeover of crossovers and SUVs.

While Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Ferrari have all been given into the onslaught of SUVs and their mass appeal, and while the Bugatti debate its place in this world, McLaren has yet to crack. It said that it would not make SUV at the beginning of last year, in the month of September last year, and once again in this month.

From Automotive News:

Despite the pressure placed on the market "The McLaren brand will remain a holdout."

"I can easily answer that and say no," said Mark Roberts, head of design operations for McLaren Automotive. "We really do deliver on the ultimate driving experience. For us, it means no compromise. An SUV does not allow us to deliver that. It's not a no-compromise kind of vehicle. "

McLaren is the Resistance.

Reverse: Past Daytona 500 Winners

It's the middle of February, meaning there's a handful of different Daytona 500 winners on any given day this time of the year. On Feb. NASCAR's biggest race went to Bobby Allison, 1984, 1989,
1995, and 2006, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and Jimmie Johnson

Neutral: Do You Think McLaren Will Give In?

If so, how long will it be?

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