Honda's plans to close its Swindon plant in 2022 come as yet another blow to hauliers operating in the automotive sector with unions warning that the move will threaten thousands of supply chain jobs across the UK.

The Japanese car manufacturer will retain its European headquarters in Bracknell but will move its manufacturing capability at Swindon to Japan.

The news closely follows Nissan's announcement this month that it would build its new X-Trail model in Japan rather than Sunderland and Jaguar Land Rover decision to move 2,000 staff onto a three-day week at its Castle Bromwich plant.

The ripple effect of the Swindon plant closure on Honda’s logistics partners could be significant. Honda employs about 3,500 people at its plant in Swindon, where the Honda Civic and the CR-V are built.

The plant keeps only an hour’s-worth of parts and relies on deliveries from around 350 trucks every day to provide the parts required to make the cars on a “just in time” basis. Honda’s logistics partners include Gefco, ECM, Howard Tenens. None of these companies were available for comment.

The car manufacturer said the move is part of a strategy to focus on electrified cars as the industry moves away from diesel vehicles, and not because of Brexit. In a statement the firm said: "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."

Speaking on BBC Radio Four, Ian Howells, Vice President of Honda said: “This is not a Brexit-related issue for us, this decision has been made on the basis of global changes. “We have always seen Brexit as something we will get through. Nevertheless these other changes that are coming at us globally we have to now respond to and as I said it is a really sad day for our people in Swindon and we regret the impact this is going to have on them and their community.”

Honda has been vocal in its concerns about Brexit. In evidence to the Business Select Committee late last year, Honda said every 15 minutes of customs delay would cost it up to £850,000 a year, and that it would take 18 months to set up new procedures and warehouses if Britain left the customs union.

It also warned that with two million component movements a day, even minor delays at the Channel Tunnel and Dover would force hundreds of its trucks to wait for the equivalent of 90 hours a day.

The company was also preparing to close the Swindon plant for six days after the Brexit deadline.

Rod Mckenzie, RHA MD of policy and public affairs, said: “Any job losses and factory closures at this uncertain time for the haulage and logistics industry is clearly bad news for our members.”

Unions reacted angrily to the news. Des Quinn, Unite automotive sector national officer, said the UK car industry had been “brought low by the chaotic Brexit uncertainty created by the rigid approach adopted by prime minister Theresa May.”

He said the union was seeking “urgent clarification” on reports of the closure, adding that the move would not only threaten 3,500 jobs at the plant but also put in danger “thousands of jobs in the extensive supply chain across the country. This would be the single biggest automotive closure since Rover in 2005", he added.