Car chiefs lay out their Brexit fears to Theresa May at Number 10 summit

Car industry executives hammered home the importance of the sector to the UK economy and the threats posed to it by Brexit at a high-level No 10 meeting with Theresa May this afternoon.
Executives from the UKs biggest car manufacturers including BMW, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota spelled out to the Prime Minister of the damage likely to be done to the industry if Britain leavesthe EU without a trade deal.
Top of the agenda was global competitiveness of vehicle manufacturers operating in Britain as negotiations with the EU appear to be making little progress.
Car chiefs lay out their Brexit fears to Theresa May at Number 10 summit

A record 2.7m new cars were registered in the Uk in 2016

One person at the meeting said car companies needed some clarity "within months" about the UK's plans, warning that investment decisions can not be delayed much longer. They said that without a better understanding of where Brexit negotiations are goingjobs could be lost to rival nations.
The ?77.5bn a year British car industry has been one of the most vocal in calling for a transitional deal, warning it faces a cliff edge if standard World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs are imposed should the UK leave the EU without a deal.
Almost 80pc of the 1.7m vehicles rolling off production lines at car plants in Britain are exported and 13pc of the country's total goods exports come from the sector. According to industry calculations, the imposition of WTO tariffs alone would result in the sector taking a ?4.5bn hit.
The return of customs could harm the flow of parts into UKcar plants - only about 40pc of components are produced domestically - making building cars in the UK less attractive and work being lost to other countries, resulting in a further loss to the economy.
The meeting - which was requested by industry trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders - also included representatives from companies in the automotive sector supply chain.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, one senior executive from an international car manufacturer with extensive operations across the UK hinted that concerns about the impact of Brexit in the industry may not be fully understood at the highest levels of government.
Car chiefs lay out their Brexit fears to Theresa May at Number 10 summit

Theresa May on a visit to Jaguar Land Rover's Solihull plant in 2016

Business Secretary Greg Clark is an extremely competent guy, he has great ideas and listens, the motor chief said. However, there are also things that are not as ideal as they could be.
A source present at the summit said that as a result of the event there was an increasing sense that the Prime Minister "gets the importance of the industry, at all levels, from manufacturers right down through the supply chain".
The integrated nation of the European car industry was also highlighted, with components from the UK going into cars built in Europe. "Both sides have skin in the game," the source added.
Jaguar Land Rovers Ralf Speth - chief executive of the Coventry-based company which has almost 40,000 UK staff - will also be at the meeting. Mr Speth has previously said he was not frustrated by a seeming lack of progress on a Brexit deal, adding he trusted that politicians attempting to agree a Brexit deal are interested in a better society for their inhabitants and coming up with a mutual success for both sides Europe and the UK".
Car chiefs lay out their Brexit fears to Theresa May at Number 10 summit

Jaguar Land Rover chief Ralf Speth has said he 'trusts' politicians to agree a Brexit deal that is good for cross-Channel trade

Jason Alden
However, his attendance at the summit underlines nervousness among car companies about the potential impact on the sector, which directly employs 169,000 people in vehicle manufacturing and 814,000 across the wider industry, of no deal being thrashed out.
Sales of new cars in the UK have slumped this year from last year's record level of 2.7m, and the SMMT is this week expected to further downgrade its forecast for this year from the current prediction of a 3.7pc drop on the previous year.
The meeting with Mrs May comes a fortnight after a similar event with Chancellor Philip Hammond. At that meeting the discussion revolved around technology such as electric vehicles and development of batteries for them along with air quality in light of the demonisation of diesel engines.Brexit played a smaller part in the discussion.
In a statement on behalf of the industry, the SMMT said: This was a good opportunity for senior executives from across the automotive sector to meet the Prime Minister to underscore the importance of our industry. The meeting focused on our members Brexit priorities in particular, the urgent need for clarity on the proposed transition agreement as business needs certainty to invest."

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