Since I joined the motor industry as a young apprentice, the sector has undergone a transformation.
Strong business decisions, long term investment and the drive to succeed has resulted in one of the most productive, competitive and innovative automotive sectors in the world, producing high value, class-leading products. The majority of what we manufacture in the UK is produced for overseas markets, with most export going to the EU.
However, all of this collectively-achieved hard work could be undermined by the slow progress on Brexit and the potential for a no deal, cliff-edge finish to the negotiations. We have overcome so many barriers over the past 25 years the last thing we need is for government to put more in place.
The risk comes not just from costly WTO tariffs, adding around £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 cross over 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. In addition, every day, these components help build 6,600 vehicles and 9,800 engines – the bulk of which are then shipped back to EU customers and assembly plants.
We will never stop striving to be competitive. However, we ask government to help provide the conditions in which we can compete. Like every other industry, we need certainty now.