In news that will be sure to worry Commander James Bond, Aston Martin have said that if no Brexit deal is reached, a temporary halt in their production of cars may be inevitable.
The iconic car maker’s CFO, Mark Wilson has said the implications of the UK leaving the EU without a deal could prove “semi-catastrophic”.
Aston Martin recently chose a former MOD site in the Vale of Glamorgan to be their second UK manufacturing plant; the new plant is expected to be the central production hub for the new SUV, the Aston Martin DBX, from 2019.
Current legislation states that cars have to be approved by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) in order to be sold across the EU. If no deal is reached before the UK departs, production will have to be halted until a new agreement is passed.
Mr Wilson aired the company’s concerns at a hearing with the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.
He said: “[For] Aston Martin it is far, far simpler than it is perhaps for Honda and some of the other larger international players. We are a British company.
“We produce our cars exclusively in Britain and will continue to do so and without VCA-type approval it really is quite a stark picture for us.”
He also emphasised the need for clarity, so the company could feel confident investing.
He said: “For Aston Martin for example, we are on a fast growth trajectory at the moment. That implies that we are investing more heavily than we would in the normal cycle.
“Typically for us, our product cycle is seven years long. You would therefore, expect to be investing at least three years in advance in new product cycles, and about 60% of our supply chain is in the EU, with the balance in the UK.
“And so, as we go through this ramp-up period now, deciding where we will invest in that supply chain is critical… Those decisions are happening every day, each day, and we are waiting to see what will be the outcome and therefore clarity is absolutely at a premium for us.”
Saying that it was “really, really important” to get “clarity quickly,” he said: “It’s very difficult to scenario-plan given an extremely wide range of outcomes, some of which are binary opposites to each other.”
Mr Wilson went on to state that Aston Martin would have a “real problem” if UK manufacturers had to rely on WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules to trade and were hindered by a strong pound.
He reiterated the need for Aston Martin to be able to recruit talented workers from the EU, saying: “About 10% of our workforce is European. But it’s a very highly skilled workforce.
“These are top class engineers, aerodynamicists, vehicle dynamics engineers – the skill level is high and we need to maintain and we need to maintain access to that talent.”
However, he said he was “encouraged” by talks about transitional arrangements.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “An extreme Brexit risks bringing parts of our thriving car industry to a standstill. People’s jobs are on the line, but still the hard Brexiteers are peddling the fantasy that we could crash out of Europe with no deal.
“Everyday of government complacency brings us closer to a catastrophic Brexit that would destroy jobs, push up prices and damage living standards. The Government must stop being so complacent and protect British businesses by ruling out no deal.”
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