UK car company bosses have met with prime minister Theresa May to hammer home their Brexit fears to the embattled premier. Executives from Honda, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota met with May to explain how the damage that would be done to their businesses if a satisfactory deal on leaving the European Union wasn’t reached before the two-year Article 50 process runs out in March 2019.   

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the body which represents the UK car industry, was also present at the meeting at Number 10. He has previously warned of the ‘cliff edge’ facing the industry if a deal isn’t reached. ‘It is vital for the future health of the sector that we maintain all the conditions that have made us so globally competitive,’ he said. ‘Brexit is the greatest challenge of our times and we look forward to working with the government to secure the future competitiveness of our industry.’ 

Nissan and BMW have both been involved in key decisions recently about whether to continue building important new models in the country, and Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port manufacturing facility is under threat of losing the Astra assembly line to France following its takeover by Peugeot-Citroen (PSA Group) earlier this year. Vauxhall/Opel is under pressure to cut costs and PSA Group bosses will look dimly on any extra costs that a poor deal on Brexit will cost in terms of increased import/export costs and the impact of increased bureaucracy. 

More Brexit warnings:

UK automotive industry key facts

  • 1.7m vehicles are built in the UK each year
  • 80 percent of the vehicles built in the UK are exported
  • The homegrown car industry is worth £77.5bn a year to the UK economy
  • Only around 40 percent of the components used in domestically built cars originate from the UK
  • The UK car industry employs 169,000 people directly building cars and 814,000 across the wider industry