The first British-built Jazz was driven off the production line at Honda's factory in Swindon this morning, providing a boost to production volume and underlining the company's 'long-term commitment to the UK operation'.

The 5-door family supermini is one of Honda's most successful cars in Europe, with over 70,000 sold in the region every year. As Honda has a policy of building its most popular cars in the markets in which they are sold, production of Jazz for European customers is shifting from Japan to the UK.

In the current financial year (to end March, 2010) Honda of the UK Manufacturing in Swindon (HUM) will build 20,000 units of Jazz. Some 75 per cent of these will be for the UK market, with the other 25 per cent planned for export to 55 countries across mainland Europe and other regions, including South Africa. The addition of Jazz brings the planned total production level for the Swindon plant in this financial year to 100,600 - still well  below the plant's full capacity. Volumes are expected to increase next year due to the new three model production line-up.

The start of Jazz production comes just 12 months after the decision to make a third model at the Wiltshire manufacturing facility.

The demand for cars like the Jazz is increasing as car buyers look to downsize from big, gas-guzzling models into small, fuel-efficient, but practical vehicles.

Honda says that in the UK the Government's scrappage scheme has given Jazz sales a significant boost, with the car making up 70 per cent of all of Honda's Scrappage deals. Other incentives across Europe have resulted in similar increases in demand.

"We see this third model as a wonderful opportunity in the current climate and we're extremely proud to be building the Jazz here in Swindon," said David Hodgetts, Director at HUM.

"The car is incredibly popular with customers, and it has won countless awards for quality and reliability. Shifting production to the UK is a real vote of confidence in all our Associates here in Swindon, and recognition of the high standards which we have been able to achieve at the plant."