SMMT President Tony Walker, in his address at the recent SMMT annual dinner, urged government not to undermine the industry’s hard-won competitiveness and called for quicker progress on agreeing a transition period following Brexit.
He stated that the lack of progress over Brexit was already having an impact on the automotive sector: “We have huge challenges. Consumer confidence has fallen leading to a downturn in sales. Uncertainty about Brexit – and market confusion over diesel – are taking their toll.”
He spoke as SMMT released new figures illustrating the high stakes of a no deal Brexit for the sector. The risk comes not just from costly WTO tariffs – which would add at least £4.5 billion to the industry’s annual overheads – but also from the imposition of customs checks, red tape and fees on goods that currently move friction free across borders.
Every day, more than 1,100 trucks for UK car plants cross into the UK from the continent – the vast majority without being checked at customs – to deliver some £35 million worth of components to UK vehicle and engine plants. And every day, these components help build 6,600 cars and 9,800 engines – the bulk of which are then shipped back to EU customers and assembly plants.
The automotive sector has been keen to highlight that the latest Euro 6 vehicles bring significant benefits in terms of low emissions and meeting our climate change targets, and these newer, cleaner vehicles should not be unfairly penalised in government plans.