Carmakers fear disorderly exit would cripple the just-in-time supply chain, investment and lead to tariff barriers
The assembly line at Peugeot PSA’s Ellesmere Port factory. It could be shut down if Britain sees a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The European car industry has warned of catastrophic effects of a no-deal Brexit, saying it would have a “seismic” impact on making cars in Europe.
In a rare joint statement, chiefs from 23 automotive business associations across Europe joined forces to caution against a brutal exit from the bloc by Britain, where auto giants BMW, Peugeot PSA and Japan’s Nissan have factories.
“Brexit is not just a British problem, we are all concerned in the European automotive industry, and even further,” said Christian Peugeot, head of French automotive industry association CCFA in the statement.
Reaping the benefits of the EU’s single market, carmakers have supply chains that criss-cross the English Channel and Britain is the destination of around 10% of vehicles assembled on the continent, according to industry data.
British prime minister, Boris Johnson, has rattled nerves with his vow to leave the European Union on 31 October come what may – with or without a trade deal with Brussels.
“The UK’s departure from the EU without a deal would trigger a seismic shift in trading conditions, with billions of euros of tariffs threatening to impact consumer choice and affordability on both sides of the Channel,” the joint statement said.
A chaotic Brexit would land a “severe” blow against the industry’s just-in-time supply chains that stretch across international borders and depend on zero administrative hassle, the associations warned.
“The EU and UK automotive industries need frictionless trade and would be harmed significantly by additional duties and administrative burden on automotive parts and vehicles,” said Bernhard Mattes, the head of Germany’s auto lobby VDA.
“Consequently, the UK and the EU should undertake all necessary steps to avoid a no-deal Brexit,” he said.
Britain’s largely foreign-owned car sector is already reeling from Brexit shocks, with French carmaker PSA warning in July that it could shut down its Vauxhall factory in Ellesmere Port in north-west England if it becomes unprofitable.
Carmakers are also slamming the brakes on investment in Britain, which fell 70% to £90 million (€98m euros) in the six months to June, the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said in July.
The SMMT has also warned that the cost to auto companies of one minute of stopped production time in Britain would amount to 54,700 euros (£50,000).