Brexit: what it means for the British automobile trade (News)


If there was ever an organization that tracked the latest downs and ups of our automobile trade, it’s Unipart, which was as soon as a division of the state-owned dinosaur British Leyland however is now a thriving unbiased elements and logistics agency.

Neill’s worries are these of the broader trade. Tariffs can be dangerous, however worse can be the delays ensuing from automobile elements held up at what’s more and more trying like being a tough border between the UK and the Continent. That threatens to destroy the finely timed motion from provider to producer that has advanced over years of membership of the EU.

The lack of easy accessibility to our greatest market and elements suppliers may put the brakes on a robust interval of progress for British automobile manufacturing, argues David Bailey, professor of trade at Aston College. From a document 1.92 million automobiles made in 1972, UK automobile manufacturing has slumped, peaked and slumped once more, however this decade it got here roaring again to 1.7m automobiles (and a couple of.7m engines) final 12 months, thanks partly to a resurgent Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover, our two greatest producers by far. Brexit may reverse that.

BMW UK boss: We is not going to shut UK factories post-Brexit

“There’s an actual hazard we’ll have one other decline,” Professor Bailey stated. “Manufacturing just isn’t assured to be right here; it may be shifted round, and we’re in peril of a self-inflicted wound that significantly damages the automotive trade.”

Manufacturing jobs have already been misplaced – at Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port, at Jaguar Land Rover in Solihull and at Nissan in Sunderland. To what extent they had been misplaced attributable to Brexit, the hunch in diesel gross sales or just cyclical market upheavals is some extent that has been a lot debated, however the timing seems to be ominous.

Brexit so worries Jaguar Land Rover that its usually reticent boss, Ralf Speth, warned final month {that a} dangerous Brexit deal would price the corporate greater than £1.2 billion a 12 months in misplaced earnings and inflict severe job losses. “We need to keep within the UK… but when we don’t have the proper deal, we’ll have to shut crops and will probably be very, very unhappy,” he advised the Monetary Instances.

Jaguar Land Rover can also be reeling from the diesel disaster, as are many different corporations. “It’s been an enormous problem for the market,” stated Bailey. “Authorities has been in all places on this.”

Within the first six months of this 12 months, diesel demand tumbled by 30% to the purpose the place the gasoline sort accounts for only a third of gross sales, down from greater than half at its peak from 2011 to 2014. Jaguar Land Rover gross sales are greater than 90% diesel within the UK and the corporate has seen demand fall by 9% within the first six months of 2018, regardless of recent product. The physique that represents automobile makers within the UK, the Society of Motor Producers and Merchants (SMMT), has known as on the Authorities to throw its assist behind the newest cleaner diesels and assist change public opinion that ‘diesel equals soiled’.

Are there any upsides for the automobile corporations?

A tough Brexit would put limitations up and drive companies to look inward, which may increase the UK elements trade. At present a mean automobile constructed within the UK makes use of 44% of UK elements by way of worth. Put up-Brexit, automobile makers would possibly need to enhance that to hit ‘guidelines of origin’ necessities (see under). The shortage of tariffs and border trouble may make a UK half that rather more aggressive in contrast with an EU half.

For instance, Aston Martin and McLaren each use Italian-made Graziano gearboxes. Within the occasion of a tough Brexit, McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt stated he would attempt to persuade Graziano to construct a UK plant. “If the duties had been there and it was harming our aggressive place, completely we might,” he stated.

McLaren at the moment sources 50% of its elements from the EU (exterior the UK), a determine that may go all the way down to 40% as soon as it begins making its carbonfibre tubs in Yorkshire in 2020. That call to shift manufacturing from Austria was made previous to Brexit, however we may see extra of this. McLaren and Aston Martin have each stated they’ve benefited from the autumn within the pound’s worth because the 2016 vote.

What do UK auto makers need from Brexit?

“We would like free commerce, zero tariffs, frictionless commerce throughout borders,” Flewitt stated. It’s a typical chorus. Basically, they need what we’ve received now: a customs union, free commerce, widespread guidelines (and a say in how they’re made) and the liberty to rent employees from throughout Europe. “We’d like unrestricted entry to the one market of Europe, our largest buying and selling companion,” the SMMT stated.

Final 12 months, 54% of UK-built automobiles had been shipped to prospects within the EU. The SMMT reckons a no-deal shift to World Commerce Group (WTO) tariffs would add £1.8bn to the price of exports, forcing worth will increase. In the meantime, an additional £2.7bn can be paid collectively for brand new automobiles coming from the Continent.

Ford places the blame squarely on Brexit for its loss-making second quarter in Europe this 12 months. “The most important problem we face is the UK,” Jim Farley, president of world markets, advised traders final week. “Brexit and the continued weak sterling has been a elementary headwind for our European enterprise.”

So what is going to occur?

The most recent white paper from prime minister Theresa Might proposes that we keep in a model of a customs union and single market whereas sustaining the EU’s guidelines on items reminiscent of automobiles. So no tariffs, no border checks and no actual change, aside from making it harder to rent individuals from exterior the UK.

The SMMT known as it a “welcome step” that exhibits the Authorities is listening, however the laborious Brexit wing of the Tory get together hates it for proposing we take EU guidelines with out having a say in how they’re made, and have pressured amendments to the White Paper. There’s little proof to counsel the EU would settle for both model.

“There’s a way of aid amongst auto makers that there’s a want to remain within the single market, however they don’t know what they’ll find yourself with,” stated Professor Bailey. “That’s deterring funding in a really huge manner.”

What’s ROO?

Guidelines of origin (ROO) are a vital a part of a free-trade settlement made with one other nation to verify a 3rd nation isn’t piggybacking the deal. Should you permit a automobile in tariff-free from nation A however 80% of elements within the automobile come from nation C, then you definitely’ve given away a profit to nation C for nothing in return. Bother is, automobiles made within the UK are so depending on EU elements that we might battle to fulfill ROO once we tried to strike post-Brexit commerce offers.

Key gamers in an £82bn trade:


Honda’s future within the UK was trying gloomy manner earlier than Brexit. It mothballed one half of its Swindon plant after gross sales didn’t recuperate following the 2008 monetary disaster, after which determined to supply simply the Civic hatchback, dumping the Jazz and CR-V. However the brand new Civic is now additionally exported to the US for the primary time, and manufacturing numbers rose 24% final 12 months. It nonetheless makes a diesel within the connected engine plant however has been in a position to swing manufacturing extra in direction of petrol. Swindon’s future in all probability hinges extra on whether or not US president Donald Trump’s threatened tariffs come to cross. That plus a tough Brexit may sink its UK manufacturing. “We battle to see a brilliant future for Honda in Europe,” auto analyst Max Warburton wrote for Bernstein Analysis earlier this 12 months.


The UK’s single largest automobile manufacturing unit, Nissan in Sunderland, is thought to be a bellwether for Brexit due to its measurement; almost half 1,000,000 automobiles had been constructed there final 12 months, of which 80% are exported. In April, Reuters reported Sunderland would shed “tons of” of jobs after demand slumped. Nissan’s UK gross sales had been down 30% within the first half of this 12 months, however that’s largely attributable to ageing product. Anticipate manufacturing numbers to climb once more after the Juke and Qashqai are changed and it positive aspects the X-Path SUV. No begin dates for these automobiles have been given.


Luton and Ellesmere Port appeared susceptible to closure after the model’s sale to cost-cutting PSA Group coincided with Brexit uncertainty. Nonetheless, PSA got here to Luton’s rescue with News that the manufacturing unit would make a brand new vary of vans on PSA platforms. PSA boss Carlos Tavares stated no resolution can be made on Ellesmere Port till 2020, nearer to the time when the present Astra is changed. A 3rd of its workforce was minimize at first of this 12 months in an try to extend its cost-competitiveness. If that works and now we have a deal on Brexit that mirrors present advantages, it may but survive.

Way forward for Vauxhall’s Luton plant secured


The union Unite gave a sign of the paranoia amongst manufacturing employees within the UK over the upheaval surrounding diesel engines when it known as for Ford’s two huge engine crops, the petrol-focused Bridgend and diesel-making Dagenham, to modify to creating electrical powertrains as an alternative. Ford is just too pragmatic for that, however its huge downside is dropping JLR as a shopper for the V6 petrol and V8 in Bridgend, and the V6 diesel in Dagenham by 2020. The V6 diesel has a brand new life within the F-150 pick-up within the US, however manufacturing at Bridgend will fall by some 150,000 engines. A brand new vary of 1.5-litre engines in each crops will give them a lift, however most head to Ford’s meeting crops in Europe, so any Brexit-derived disruption will damage.


BMW is unlikely to go away Mini’s ancestral residence in Cowley (it’s due so as to add the electrical Mini from subsequent 12 months) however has different choices within the case of a tough Brexit. The agency ramped up Mini manufacturing at its Dutch contract manufacturing plant to 170,000 models in 2017 and has elevated the top rely there, Reuters reported in June. The corporate has been vocal on the threats of Brexit, notably by way of customs hold-ups, however its engine plant at Hams Corridor is properly positioned to trip out the diesel hunch: it doesn’t make any.


“Let’s be clear, Toyota, Nissan and Honda got here right here to entry the European single market, which is why they’ve received a specific downside with Brexit,” says Aston College’s Professor Bailey. Toyota’s 2500 workers in Derbyshire breathed a sigh of aid when the agency introduced the subsequent Auris for the plant beginning early subsequent 12 months. It ought to increase manufacturing after a lean couple of years, however the Avensis has now gone and gained’t get replaced. Toyota’s engine plant in Deeside in North Wales, in the meantime, has thrived because of the curiosity in Toyota hybrids amid the diesel hunch.

Jaguar Land Rover Britain’s greatest auto maker made simply over half 1,000,000 automobiles within the UK final 12 months, however 2018 has introduced issues. First it stated it was reducing manufacturing at Halewood, then in April it introduced the lack of up 1000 company jobs at its greatest plant in Solihull. To make up the shortfall, JLR shifted over 362 full-time employees from Citadel Bromwich, the place it builds Jaguars struggling among the greatest gross sales declines this 12 months. JLR has blamed the diesel hunch and mannequin cycles, however its world technique can also be a trigger. Manufacturing is rising in China and it’s nearly to start out manufacturing of the Discovery in Slovakia. After being saved from closure when Tata took over JLR in 2008, Citadel Bromwich now seems to be susceptible.

The posh manufacturers Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin and McLaren would possibly grumble about Brexit, however they don’t have any actual selection however to trip it out; an excessive amount of of their world model attract is tied up within the ‘Made in Britain’ promise.

To McLaren’s Mike Flewitt, it’s simply one other problem to barter. “In a single market, Singapore, I’ve a 180% tariff. We’re speaking possibly WTO tariffs at 10%,” he stated. “I’m not even satisfied there might be tariffs.”

Tariffs are fourth on the listing of Brexit fears for Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer. “That’s least of my considerations,” he says. Primary for him is border drag, two is guidelines of origin and three is hiring the proper individuals. “We’re using individuals from the likes of Ferrari, and I want to have the ability to say to them they’re going to have the ability to keep after Brexit,” he stated.

Nick Gibbs

Learn extra

Brexit: Bentley may shift manufacturing to Europe in ‘worst case state of affairs’

BMW UK boss: We is not going to shut UK factories post-Brexit

Brexit: EU single market is ‘essential’ to UK automotive sector


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