Britain’s planned exit from the European Union is disturbing car company bosses gathered at the Paris Motor Show.
Nissan’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn has been most outspoken saying he is considering halting new investment in Britain unless he gets a government pledge of compensation if there are import taxes imposed by Europe on UK-built cars after Brexit.
Ghosn said: “It’s very difficult to make decisions in terms of investment or envision the future if you don’t know how the relationship is going to be between the UK, and the main trade partner of the UK which is the rest of Europe.
He added that a “tax imposed on products coming from the UK to Europe would be something very detrimental to the development of our presence in the UK”.
Jaguar Land Rover says must be fair for all
Ralf Speth, chief executive of British based Jaguar Land Rover, has also weighed in.
He said the Indian owned company will “realign its thinking” on investment following the referendum vote and there should be “a level playing field” if Nissan gets a Brexit compensation deal.
“We are the only car manufacturer in the UK to do all the work in terms of research, design, engineering, production planning in the UK. We want to have fair treatment and a level playing field at the end of the day.”
Don’t want to buy British
He also said there had been signs that some customers in Europe no longer wanted to buy British cars after the Brexit vote.
Referring to comments by the company’s European sales representatives, he said: “They have the very first customers in their showrooms (who) clearly highlight that they don’t want to buy British products any more.”
Speth left open the possibility of new investment such as an electric battery and car plant in Britain if the conditions, including testing and scientific support, were right.
“The best thing would be to have something in the UK… If you are producing batteries there then you will also produce vehicles there,” he said.
Britain’s car industry body is also concerned.
Asked about Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s remarks, Mike Hawes, the head of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “The current uncertainty is not conducive to attracting manufacturing investment to the UK.”
“The government must do all it can to maintain the competitiveness of the UK automotive sector, which has been hugely successful in boosting exports, creating jobs and generating economic growth in recent years,” he added.
Over 800,000 jobs depend on Britain’s overwhelmingly foreign-owned car industry and big carmakers backed continued membership during the campaign, seeing benefits from open trade and standardised rules.
The British car industry’s output is currently expected to reach a record high of two million by 2020.