Toyota: no-deal Brexit could halt UK production for 'months'

by James Attwood, Autocar Uk 01 Oct 2018

A no-deal Brexit could potentially stop production at Toyota’s plant near Derby for “months”, the manufacturer has warned.

The Japanese firm’s Burnaston factory currently makes the Auris and Avensis models, and produces around 150,000 cars per year – the bulk of which are exported to the European Union. Toyota has recently invested £250million in Burnaston ahead of production of the new Corolla starting there later this year. It is also hiring 400 staff, to join 2500 who currently work there.

The firm relies heavily on a ‘just in time’ production method, using components imported from elsewhere in the EU. The plant’s boss, Marvin Cooke, told the BBC that a failure to reach an agreement over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU could have a major impact.

“My view is that if Britain crashes out of the EU at the end of March we will see production stops in our factory,” said Cooke. Asked how long the disruption could last, he added: “We can’t predict. It could be hours, days, weeks or even months.”

Cooke added that the possible introduction of import and export tariffs between the UK and EU would “add permanent costs to our business”. He added: “That would reduce the number of cars made in the UK, and that would cost jobs.”

A UK government spokesperson told the BBC that it was still confident a Brexit deal would be reached.

Toyota is the latest car firm to voice fears over the impact of a no-deal Brexit on UK production. Mini will close its Oxford plant for a month following Brexit, bringing forward a planned closure, while Honda is understood to be looking at stockpiling key components. Toyota says its production process makes it impossible for the firm to hold more than a day’s worth of inventory. 

Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth recently said that fears over a hard Brexit had already led to job cuts in the car industry – and that more could follow.

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