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Ford warns of UK exit if ‘catastrophic’ no-deal Brexit goes ahead

Ford is said to be ramping up plans to ship production out of the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Ford’s Dagenham site is one of two engine plants that it currently operates in the UK

According to a report in The Times, the carmaker has said it’s stepping up its plans to move out of the UK as concerns mount over the imminent prospect that the UK will exit the EU without a deal.

The publication reports that the automaker, which has two engine plants in the UK and a transmissions joint venture, told the prime minister on a private call with business leaders that it was preparing alternative sites abroad. Theresa May is said to have confirmed reports that the Government was preparing a package of financial support for businesses affected by a no-deal Brexit.

The warning comes just days after Nissan confirmed that it’s axeing plans to move production of the next-gen X-Trail for the European market to Sunderland as it says that Brexit uncertainty has had a hand in the decision.

It also follows ongoing calls from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) for the Government to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Research by the SMMT has indicated the catastrophic effects of such a no-deal scenario, with three-quarters of carmakers in the UK saying in latest analysis that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would hit their business, impacting on profitability and future investment.

Meanwhile a new report published today from OpenText and the Centre of Brexit Studies identifies the likely implications that different Brexit options could have on the UK automotive industry. It suggests that long-term impacts could see the UK’s competitiveness as a base for automotive manufacturing for European market decrease along with a reduction in investment.

Ford has already announced this year that it’s taking “decisive action to transform the Ford business in Europe”, including structured cost cutting. Speaking last month, Steven Armstrong, group vice president and president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “We will invest in the vehicles, services, segments and markets that best support a long-term sustainably profitable business, creating value for all our stakeholders and delivering emotive vehicles to our customers.”

Commenting on The Times story, a spokesperson for Ford of Britain said to Fleet World: “We have long urged the UK Government and Parliament to work together to avoid the country leaving the EU on a no-deal, hard Brexit basis on March 29. Such a situation would be catastrophic for the UK auto industry and Ford’s manufacturing operations in the country. We will take whatever action is necessary to preserve the competitiveness of our European business. We have no decision to announce today.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.