Like Nissan’s Sunderland plant in north-east England, Honda’s European car plant in Swindon, Wiltshire, achieved record production in 2003.

Output of 184,702 cars last year was up 4.5% on 2002.

As part of Honda’s so-called global supply network, the factory shipped 86,412 cars outside Europe – 77,532 CRV SUVs to the USA, 8,482 sporty Civic 3 door sports hatchbacks to North America, and 398 more to Japan.