The Civic Si hatchback
source: American Honda

Honda's Swindon factory is to build a sporty new three door Civic Si hatchback model for sale in North America. The plan, announced by American Honda Motor Co as it unveiled the car at the New York motor show, will see around 15,000 units exported annually from early next year.

The decision follows the announcement last October that Honda would dual-source the next CR-V SUV for the North American market from Japan and the UK - beginning in early 2002 - and export the Civic three door from the UK to Japan from this autumn.

Honda says there are no plans to introduce the two-litre, 160PS American three door Civic Si in Europe, where a 200PS Type-R version will go on sale in October.

However, car magazines are already suggesting the U.S.-spec car could be an ideal cut-price sports model for Europe, plugging a gap in the range between the regular 1.4 and 1.6-litre cars due out in September and the overtly sporty Type R.

Meanwhile Honda's second British car assembly plant at Swindon is due to start production in July 2001, boosting capacity from the original plant's 150,000 to a total of 250,000 cars a year. However, planned 2001 production is only 137,000.

Honda has invested £120 million ($US171 million) to refurbishing the existing plant and installing its flexible New Manufacturing System.

Honda currently employs 3,500 workers at Swindon and is in the process of recruiting to bring the total to 4,000 by end of 2001.


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