Eight of the UK’s major car brands with domestic manufacturing facilities – Aston Martin, BMW Mini, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren, Nissan, Toyota and Vauxhall – united on the eve of this week’s Paris Motor Show – to promote the strength of the UK automotive sector to a global audience.
Joined by Trade Minister Mark Garnier, the event organised by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) was used to send a signal that the industry had seen unprecedented growth in recent years thanks to competitive business conditions, tariff-free trading and significant investment in new models and facilities.
With the UK government in post-Brexit trade-related discussions with countries globally, the UK automotive industry’s show of strength was a clear signal not to damage a sector that has seen car manufacturing at a 10-year high with British-built cars more popular than ever, with a record 1.2 million cars exported to more than 100 countries. The UK’s biggest trading partner is the European Union.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The future success of this sector will hinge upon the ability of the UK to maintain the business and trading conditions that make the sector so competitive globally. More than £10 billion of investment has gone into new facilities and models over the past five years and we’re proud to see so many rival brands coming together to promote the strengths of UK automotive.”
However, within 24-hours of the “show of strength”, Carlos Ghosn, boss of Nissan, which has a major manufacturing plant at Sunderland, threatened to rule out fresh investment unless the UK government promised to reimburse firms for the hit they could take from Brexit.