UK auto industry backs remain vote ahead of EU referendum

Leaving Europe could jeopardise jobs and undermine investment in the UK’s buoyant automotive sector, trade body SMMT has warned.

According to a survey of members of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – a range of small, large and medium-sized organisations – an overwhelming majority of 77 per cent are in favour of remaining in the EU, with only a minority 9 per cent saying leaving would be best. Notably no large company said that an exit would be in their business’ best interests.

The sector supports 800,000 jobs across the UK and contributes £15.5 billion annually to the economy. Vehicle production is currently at its highest level for over a decade and exports at record levels (around 80 per cent of vehicles produced are exported and more than half of these are destined for the EU).

Remaining will allow the UK to retain the influence on which the unique and successful UK automotive sector depend

According to the SMMT, unrestricted access to the world’s largest single market, the negotiating strength of the EU to secure international trade deals, the ability to shape technical regulations and free movement of labour have all been major factors in this success.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “We want this success to continue rather than jeopardise it by increasing costs, making our trading relationships uncertain and creating new barriers to our single biggest and most important market, Europe. Remaining will allow the UK to retain the influence on which the unique and successful UK automotive sector depends.”

Senior figures from a range of UK-based automotive echoed this message.

Ken Gregor, Chief Financial Officer of Jaguar Land Rover said that “Remaining in the EU… will increase our chances to grow, create jobs and attract investment in future technologies.”

Tony Walker, Deputy Managing Director, Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, said, “We believe that continued membership of the European Union is best for our business and for our competitiveness in the longer term.”

And Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, BMW AG, said, “We firmly believe Britain would be better off if it remained an active and influential member of the EU, shaping European regulations which will continue to impact the UK whatever the decision on Thursday.”