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‘Keep Britain open for business’ urges UK automotive

‘Keep Britain open for business’ urges UK automotive

‘Keep Britain open for business’ urges UK automotive

2015 was a record year for Britain’s automotive industry, with turnover of £71.6 billion – but this success could be at risk if crucial access to the EU single market is threatened by Brexit.

Unrestricted access to Europe has been a key factor in UK automotive going from strength to strength, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said at the launch of the industry’s annual Sustainability Report: 814,000 people are now dependent on the automotive industry, 169,000 of them employed directly in manufacturing.

“This success has been due to unrestricted access to the single market, input to EU legislation to safeguard the interests of UK Automotive, and the ability to recruit talent from abroad,” he said.

“Our growth depends on certainty and continued open and reciprocal access to the 100-plus markets with which the UK automotive industry so successfully trades. This is not just finished cars but components, technologies and the wider automotive value chain.

“Any risks and uncertainty to these fundamental benefits need to be addressed head on by UK government.”

While not directly referring to the EU Referendum decision, the SMMT also cited EU-negotiated international trade deals and the ability to influence new standards as key factors in the industry’s success: “significant gains in employment, economic contribution and environmental performance” will only be continued if the right post-Brexit deal is struck.

Come back later for more news on how the automotive industry is responding to Brexit

Best of British: 25 homegrown cars to make us proud

Best of British: 25 homegrown cars to make us proud

Best of British: 25 homegrown cars to make us proud

The biggest challenge when creating a list of 25 great British cars is deciding which ones to leave out. We’ve selected 25 of our favourite motors, including a few that might raise a few eyebrows. That said, we start with something entirely predictable…

Jaguar E-Type Series 1

Prepare an A to Z of great British cars and you must start with the letter E. The Jaguar E-Type is, almost without question, the most beautiful car ever to emerge from these shores. Some would say it’s the most beautiful thing Britain has ever built. A car so delightful, none other than Enzo Ferrari was forced to proclaim it as “the most beautiful car ever made”.

Brexit: the UK automotive industry reacts
Opinion: should carmakers have done more to prevent a Brexit?

Mini

The original Mini: the little car that changed the world. Like the E-Type, everything that could be written about the Mini has already been written. Its incredibly clever packaging, fun-to-drive dynamics and ability to appeal to everyone from rock stars to housewives ensured the Mini would be remembered as a true great. When the Cooper S took on the Monte Carlo Rally — and won — the Mini’s place in the history books was assured.

Range Rover Classic

Range Rover Classic

The Range Rover might not have been the first ‘posh’ SUV — the Jeep Wagoneer can claim that title — but it revolutionised the sector. Here was a car that was just as good on the road as it was off it. By today’s standards, it was a relatively crude affair, but as it evolved, the Range Rover morphed into the definitive luxury SUV.

McLaren F1

Ferrari and Maranello, Lamborghini and Sant’Agata, McLaren and… Woking. Its birthplace might not sound as illustrious as that of its Italian rivals, but make no mistake, the McLaren F1 is a legend amongst supercars. It held the record for the fastest production car in the world and featured an innovative three-seater layout. The engine bay housing the 6.1-litre V12 engine was, quite literally, made of gold.

Lotus Elise S1

“Simplify, then add lightness.” Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, may have died many years before the first Elise rolled off the Hethel production line, but it’s fair to say he would have approved of its construction. By stripping away all that was unnecessary and making efficient use of lightweight materials, Lotus created one of the world’s ultimate drivers’ cars. It’s as though the British B-road was invented for the Elise.

Austin Seven

Austin Seven

When Herbert Austin set about creating the Austin Seven his ultimate aim was to build “a decent car for the man who, at present, can afford only a motorcycle and sidecar”. It has been likened to the Ford Model T, but thanks to the many variants, it’s also like a Swiss Army Knife on four wheels. The Seven provided a cost-effective platform for racing, which led to the Design Museum crediting it as laying the foundations for Britain’s supremacy in Formula One design and construction. Praise indeed.

Lynx Eventer

We don’t need huge sales figures, record-breaking top speeds or groundbreaking technology to make us proud. Consider, if you will, the Lynx Eventer. Take one Jaguar XJ-S, send it to coachbuilders Lynx and, hey presto, a 155mph performance car with the practicality of a family estate. Proof that nobody does a shooting brake quite like the British.

Aston Martin DB5

Without the help of a certain Mr Bond, we’ll never know if the Aston Martin DB5 would have enjoyed quite the same level of success. It’s interesting to note that in the Goldfinger book, author Ian Fleming placed 007 at the wheel of a Aston Martin DB MkIII, but the film producers chose to use the recently launched DB5. The ultimate Bond car and the ultimate Aston Martin? Quite possibly, Miss Moneypenny.

Land Rover Series I

Land Rover Series I

Britain’s most famous off-roader was conceived on a beach in Anglesey and built using some old wartime Jeeps. We can thank Rover designer Maurice Wilks, who sketched a design for the ultimate off-roader in the sand at Red Wharf Bay and helped to kick-start a production run that would span close to seven decades.

MGB

Over half a million were built and it encapsulates all that is good (and bad) about the British sports car. It is, of course, the MGB – one of Britain’s finest exports and, for a while at least, the world’s best-selling sports car. Drive a good one and you’ll never look back. Drive a rough one and you’ll take the bus back.

Lotus Elan Sprint

When you can count the likes of Jay Leno, Gordon Murray and Harry Metcalfe on your list of owners, you know you’re doing something right. The Lotus Elan Sprint weighed just under 700kg and, with its front-mid engine layout, offered near-perfect weight distribution. Another reason why we can be proud of the Elan? Mazda used it as the inspiration for the MX-5, which is the best affordable sports car you can buy.

TVR Sagaris

TVR Sagaris

The TVR Sagaris is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand it offered the brutal performance, outlandish styling and design quirks that you’d expect from one of Blackpool’s finest. But read the contemporary reviews and you’ll find it was one of the most sorted and predictable sports cars TVR had ever produced. Overall, it’s the kind of homegrown low-volume sports car Britain does best.

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Is the Silver Shadow the greatest car Rolls-Royce has ever produced? Most certainly not, but its ‘car for the masses’ approach took the brand into unchartered waters, becoming the firm’s most successful car in the process. Compared to the models before it, the Silver Shadow of 1965 was, relatively speaking, rather conventional. But it retained the exquisite craftsmanship and sense of luxury.

Ford Lotus Cortina

The Mk1 Ford Lotus Cortina was one of the true pioneers of the performance saloon and one of the world’s first Q-cars. The recipe was simple: take a lightweight Ford Cortina body and add a Lotus engine from the Elan and Europa. A legend of road and track was born, with the Cortina providing the benchmark for all future performance family saloons.

Triumph Dolomite Sprint

Triumph Dolomite Sprint

A controversial choice, perhaps, but the Triumph Dolomite Sprint deserves far greater respect than it receives. While the likes of the Alfa Romeo GTV, BMW 2002tii and Ford Escort RS200 are held up as 70s performance gems, the rear-wheel drive, Michelotti-designed Dolly Sprint is largely forgotten. In its day, the Sprint more than lived up to its name, while offering the practicality of four doors. A rare highlight of the British Leyland era.

Bentley 3-Litre

Talk about making a grand entrance. The 3-Litre was Bentley’s first production vehicle, which laid the foundations for a future of elegance, performance and racing success. Indeed, the 3-Litre was successful in the 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans races.

Morgan 3 Wheeler

It’s only right that the nation that gave the world the Ministry of Funny Walks should also deliver the brilliantly bonkers Morgan 3 Wheeler. It weighs a featherlight 525kg, helping to get the most from its 2.0-litre V-twin engine. Better still – the forthcoming all-electric EV3 weighs less than 500kg, with Morgan claiming a potential range of 150 miles. We can hardly wait.

Jensen FF

Jensen FF

The Jensen FF will go down in history as the world’s first non-SUV to offer permanent four-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes. The FF stands for Ferguson Formula, after the company that supplied the four-wheel drive system, but while the Jensen wasn’t a sales success, it laid the foundations for future 4WD road cars. The Audi quattro is just one example.

Reliant Scimitar GTE

There’s an unwritten rule that suggests you cannot write about the Reliant Scimitar GTE (Grand Touring Estate) without mentioning Princess Anne. The Princess Royal received her first Scimitar on her 20th birthday, clearly attracted by the performance and practicality. The GTE also paved the way for the likes of the Volvo P1800ES and Lancia Beta HPE.

Rover SD1 Vitesse

With a longer list to work with, we would have included a number of different Rovers. But for this shortlist, we settle on the Rover SD1 Vitesse. Here was a car that could have been a world-beater, but build quality issues, poor reliability and striking workers meant it never really stood a chance. The 190hp 3.5-litre Vitesse was a fitting swansong for Britain’s nearly car, giving it the performance to match its Ferrari Daytona styling.

Gordon-Keeble GK1

Gordon-Keeble GK1

Another controversial choice, but hear us out. Spend some time in the company of a Gordon-Keeble and you’ll begin to admire its understated beauty (you can thank Giugiaro for that). But it’s so much more than a pretty face, as highlighted by its wondrous interior and 5.4-litre V8 engine. Here’s a GT that could transport you to the South of France with all the elegance and charm of a Facel Vega, Ferrari or Aston Martin. Oh, and it has a tortoise for a badge.

Bentley Turbo R

The Turbo R arrived in 1985, effectively replacing the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo. The R stood for Road holding, with Bentley placing greater emphasis on dynamics and driver appeal. Power was up, the suspension was stiffened and alloy wheels were added. The Turbo R might have upset the Bentley purists, but it’s a true great.

Vauxhall Chevette 2300HS

The Vauxhall Chevette 2300HS was a hot hatch before the world knew what a hot hatch was. A hairy-chested, homologation special that stank of Brut and needed to be taken by the scruff of the neck to get the best from it. Unlike other rally specials of the era, the Chevette is still relatively cheap, so grab one while you still can.

Rolls-Royce Phantom

Rolls-Royce Phantom

Put aside the German parentage for a moment and revel in the absolute majesty of the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Built within a stone’s throw of Lord March’s country pad, the Phantom proves that when it comes to opulence and luxury, Britannia still rules the waves.

Austin FX4

From a car that only the chosen few will enjoy to one that will have touched millions of lives. The Austin FX4, better known as the Black Cab, is one of London’s most famous icons, up there with the Routemaster bus, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.

Jaguar Union Flag

Brexit: the UK automotive industry reacts

Jaguar Union FlagBritain has voted to leave the European Union, a decision that could have a particular impact on the automotive industry: of the 1,682,156 vehicles produced here in 2015, 77.3% were exported and 57.5% went to Europe.

Opinion: should carmakers have done more to prevent a Brexit?
In or Out: European cars we love – and those we’d send back

That equals almost 750,000 cars being exported to the EU: with the average value of an export being £20,900, this means £15.6 billion of trade could be in jeopardy if, once British export plans are confirmed, a swift resolution to trade deals is not found.

Britain’s next-biggest automotive trade partner is the United States, which take just 10.9% of exports: the ramifications are potentially thus serious.

Top export destinations for UK cars

  1. EU: 57.5%
  2. US: 10.9%
  3. China: 7.0%
  4. Turkey: 2.9%
  5. Australia: 2.8%
  6. Russia: 2.0%
  7. Japan: 1.8%
  8. South Korea: 1.7%
  9. Canada: 1.2%
  10. Israel: 1.2%

The short-term impact on British motorists is also potentially costly. The RAC has already predicted fuel prices will rise by 2p a litre due to the fall in the value of sterling, while Glass’s says there will be a slowdown in market activity as people put off big-ticket purchase decisions because of the Brexit uncertainty.

The UK automotive industry employs almost 800,000 people and had turnover of £69.5 billion in 2015. Seven mainstream car manufacturers build vehicles here, as do eight premium and specialist brands. It is one of the UK’s most important industries.

Here, then is how the automotive industry has reacted to the news – and keep coming back to more Motoring Research analysis of what Brexit means for the automotive industry…

SMMT

Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The British public has chosen a new future out of Europe. Government must now maintain economic stability and secure a deal with the EU which safeguards UK automotive interests.

“This includes securing tariff-free access to European and other global markets, ensuring we can recruit talent from the EU and the rest of the world and making the UK the most competitive place in Europe for automotive investment.”

Jaguar Land Rover

A JLR spokesperson said: “For Jaguar Land Rover, today is just business as usual. We are a British business with a strong manufacturing base in this  country, we call Britain home and we remain committed to all our manufacturing sites and investment decisions.

“We respect the decision of the British people and in common with all other businesses, Jaguar Land Rover will analyse the issues arising from it: as of today, nothing has changed for us or the rest of the British automotive industry.

“Europe is a key strategic market for our business, comprising 20% of global sales, and we remain absolutely committed to our customers in the EU.

“There will be a significant negotiating period, and we need to understand more about that as details emerge. We will work hard 
with all parties to ensure that the importance of the British automotive industry is fully understood at every level of the 
negotiation process.”

In 2015, Jaguar Land Rover produced 500,000 vehicles in the UK: 80% of production was exported to more than 180 countries

BMW Group

A BMW GB spokesperson said: “BMW Group respects the British electorate’s decision to leave the EU. While it is clear there will now be a period of uncertainty, there will be no immediate change to our operations in the UK.

“Today, we know that many of the relevant conditions for supplying the European market will have to be re-negotiated, but of course we cannot say what this means for our UK operations until those future regulatory and legislative arrangements are agreed. We will not speculate about the outcome of these negotiations nor about any possible effects that might have on our production operations in the UK

In 2015, 201,206 MINIs were built in the UK. 80% of MINIs built in Oxford are exported, and 50% of those go to Europe

Honda

A Honda spokesperson said: “A decision has been taken by the British people and Honda respects that decision. At this moment, it is not clear what conditions and rules will ultimately replace the UK’s membership of the EU. We will therefore carefully monitor developments.

“We continue to prepare for the production launch of the 10th generation Civic from our Swindon plant. Honda remains committed to its business in Europe.”

In 2015, Honda built around 130,000 cars in the UK. 40% went to Europe

Nissan

Motoring Research contacted Nissan for comment: the firm said it is making no comment at this time.

In 2015, Nissan produced 476,589 and exported 55% to Europe

Toyota

A Toyota spokesperson said: “Going forward we will closely monitor and analyse the impact on our business operations in the UK, and how we can maintain competitiveness and secure sustainable growth together with the UK automotive industry and other stakeholders.”

Aston Martin

An Aston Martin spokesperson said: “Aston Martin will now orientate its business to deliver our mid-term plan in the context of the exit and the market and forex volatility that may exist during the period of transition. As the UK could now be subject to new trade tariff barriers, we also anticipate the need for additional productivity and efficiency in the medium term.  

“Nevertheless, it is important that Government must now maintain economic stability and secure a deal with the EU which safeguards UK automotive interests. This includes securing tariff free access to European and other global markets.

In 2015, Aston Martin sold 3,500 cars

Bentley

A Bentley spokesperson said: “Bentley Motors respects the outcome of the EU referendum and will now work with the UK Government and motor industry to secure a positive future for its business.

“Although it is too early to assess the full implications on our operations, our cars will continue to be built with the same passion and dedication by our skilled workforce. As a global business, operating in many different international markets, we are well-placed to adapt to changing economic and political conditions.

“We will stay focused on our exciting plans for new products. Bentley has a strong future and will continue to be the world’s most sought after luxury car brand.”

In 2015, Bentley sold 10,100 cars, of which 1,695 (17%) went to continental Europe

Glass’s

Rupert Pontin, Glass’s director of valuations, said: “A ‘Brexit’ is an interesting result that sees the UK very much embark on a new chapter that is largely unwritten.

“If the Brexit voters are correct in their thinking, it could create greater prosperity for the country in the long term but, over the next few months and years, the road is likely to be very bumpy. Markets will be affected, as will the value of the pound, and we expect to see consumer confidence tail off until the view of the way forward becomes clearer. How long this will take is difficult to predict.

“For the motor industry, all of these developments are very likely to have negative effects including a period of instability for new and used car sales, as well as an increase in pre-reg activity and downward pressure on values.

Road Haulage Association

Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “This is an ‘earthquake moment’ for the whole country, the economy and our industry. We simply cannot take anything for granted. It’s vital that Ministers and the Bank of England work quickly to steady markets and nerves.”

FairFuelUK

Howard Cox founder of FairFuelUK said: “We are hearing that major oil supplying countries may differentiate oil prices for the UK and EU States following Vote Leave’s victory in the EU Referendum. Any knee jerk reprisal by penalising UK drivers with higher prices at the pumps through higher oil prices, is nothing short of opportunistic, vindictive and unnecessary.

“We are horror-struck that there is hear-say, no matter if it is just grapevine gossip, that global oil prices may now be manipulated by economic region.”

Blog: should carmakers have done more to prevent a Brexit?

Opinion: should carmakers have done more to prevent a Brexit?

Blog: should carmakers have done more to prevent a Brexit?

It’s a historical turn of events that has divided the country: the UK has voted in favour of a so-called ‘Brexit’ of the European Union.

The markets have reacted, with the pound plunging to its lowest level against the dollar since the mid 1980s. No one really knows what the future holds for the UK – but there’s one thing that’s guaranteed, global car manufacturers who produce cars here are going to be disappointed.


More on Brexit from Motoring Research:

The Telegraph: What would Brexit mean for motorists and the UK car industry?

RAC: What the EU referendum means for drivers?


Japanese manufacturer Toyota produces cars at its site in Burnaston, Derbyshire, and warned this week that “if the UK leaves the EU, we think it unlikely that the UK can keep the current trading arrangements.”

It added this would mean paying duties on cars – as much as 10%, leading to huge losses to Toyota, or more expensive cars for customers.

Nissan meanwhile, with its huge Sunderland plant (where around half a million cars are built a year), went as far as taking legal action against Vote Leave for using its logo in its material. And other manufacturers, including Vauxhall, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, all voiced support for the Remain campaign.

Industry body SMMT also backed staying in the EU – no surprise, as 80% of cars built in Britain are exported, contributing £15.5 billion a year annually to the UK economy.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said a Remain vote would continue the automotive industry’s success, “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.”

So where did it go wrong? Seemingly at around 1am this morning when Sunderland was one of the first areas to reveal the results of local polls – with Leave taking the lead with 61% of the votes. That’s in an area where around 7,000 people are employed directly in car manufacturing by Nissan, a manufacturer which has strongly backed remaining in the EU.

The people of Derby, home to Toyota’s UK factory, also backed Brexit – with 57% voting Leave, despite the firm directly employing nearly 4,000 workers in the area. And 56% of people supported the Leave campaign in Solihull, home of Land Rover.

The SMMT has been quick to react. Mike Hawes said: “The British public has chosen a new future out of Europe. Government must now maintain economic stability and secure a deal with the EU which safeguards UK automotive interests. This includes securing tariff-free access to European and other global markets, ensuring we can recruit talent from the EU and the rest of the world and making the UK the most competitive place in Europe for automotive investment.”

We don’t know what will happen now. Manufacturers aren’t going to suddenly close down their huge British plants are move production elsewhere – but there could, and will be, significant consequences for car making in the UK.

It raises the question: should car manufacturers have done more? Many wrote to workers, making it clear where they stood. But should they have spelt out the consequences of backing Boris Johnson et al? Or would that have been undemocratic?

In or Out: European cars we love – and those we’d send back

01_In_or_OutVote Leave or vote Remain – soon we’ll know which way the UK public has voted in the EU referendum. The crucial vote got us thinking – if we were voting to decide the future of European cars, which ones would we keep and which ones would we send packing? We took a virtual tour of the European plants to find out.

European cars: leave or remain?AUSTRIA: Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen – REMAIN

It might be long in the tooth, but there’s something reassuringly old-school about the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. In the absence of the Land Rover Defender, it stands shoulder to shoulder as a last bastion of the traditional full-size SUV. Since 1979, the G-Wagen has been built by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria.

European cars: leave or remain?AUSTRIA: MINI Paceman – LEAVE

Meanwhile, the Austrians are also responsible for the MINI Paceman. Production started in 2012, two years after the MINI Countryman. MINI describes it as a “VIP lounge on wheels… with a rocket up its backside”. For that reason alone, we’re asking the MINI Paceman to leave.

European cars: leave or remain?BELGIUM: Volvo XC60 – REMAIN

Belgium once had a proud automotive industry, with the Ford plant in Genk responsible for the production of some 14 million vehicles over 50 years. Today, the Volvo XC60 is the best new car to come out of Belgium.

European cars: leave or remain?CROATIA: Rimac Concept One – REMAIN

It might sound like the name of your girlfriend’s hair removal cream, but the Rimac Concept One is the best thing to come out of Croatia since Luka Modric. The Croatian-built all-wheel drive electric hypercar offers in excess of 1,000hp and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 2.6 seconds. This is one European car we love. Still want that Tesla Model S?

European cars: leave or remain?CZECH REPUBLIC: Skoda Superb – REMAIN

Into the Czech Republic and it will come as no surprise to find the Skoda Superb topping our list of cars that should remain. It’s one of the best new cars in Europe and a genuine rival to so-called premium badge rivals.

European cars: leave or remain?CZECH REPUBLIC: SEAT Toledo – LEAVE

SEAT – the supposed fun-loving and sun-drenched part of Volkswagen Group. So why on earth is the Spanish firm lumbered with the instantly forgettable Toledo? It’s built alongside the equally lacklustre Skoda Rapid at Mlada Boleslav, Prague.

European cars: leave or remain?DENMARK: Zenvo ST1 – REMAIN

There are many reasons to love Denmark: Lego, bacon, butter and pastries, to name but four. We could also add the Zenvo ST1 to the list – the 7.0-litre V8 supercar, arguably most famous for bursting into flames during an episode of Top Gear.

European cars: leave or remain?DENMARK: Garia Mansory – LEAVE

Not all golf carts are created equal. Danish firm Garia loads its carts with the kind of features you’d find on an entry-level S-Class. You can spec anything from a refrigerator to a heated windscreen. It’s all very country club and that’s perfectly fine. But the Mansory treatment, complete with clear-coat carbonfibre, is a stretch too far.

European cars: leave or remain?FINLAND: Fisker Karma – REMAIN

While hardly a powerhouse of the European automotive industry, Finland has a history of car production. Various Saab models were produced there between 1969 and 2003, while the Porsche Boxster and Cayman were also built in Finland. Our pick would be the Fisker Karma, which is now available with a V8 engine from the Corvette ZL1.

European cars: leave or remain?FRANCE: Renaultsport Megane 275-S Cup – REMAIN

We’re unable to gaze into our crystal ball to predict whether or not the UK will vote to say goodbye to EU membership, but we can say with some confidence that the Renaultsport Megane is about to face the final curtain. But what a way to say au devoir: the cut-price 275-S Cup. Ooh la la!

European cars: leave or remain?FRANCE: DS 4 – LEAVE

Meanwhile, France can keep the DS 4. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the DS 4, it’s just that it smacks of an ageing product, with a recent refresh doing little to make it any more appealing. The current DS range is just a hor d’oeuvre while we wait for the real DS cars to appear.

European cars: leave or remain?GERMANY: Ford Focus RS – REMAIN

Choosing a German car to represent Remain is a tough, but not because we’re struggling to find anything decent. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our choice is the Ford Focus RS, which just happens to be built in Saarlouis, a town situated within drifting distance of France.

European cars: leave or remain?GERMANY: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer – LEAVE

It’s hard to criticise the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, because it does exactly what it sets out to do. If you’re after a premium seven-seater, it’s hard to beat. But it, along with the Active Tourer, is a radical departure for BMW – we can’t quite get our head round a front-wheel drive people carrier from Bavaria. And ask yourself this: does that driver look good behind the wheel?

European cars: leave or remain?HUNGARY: Audi A3 – REMAIN

Europe’s most popular premium family hatchback wears a German badge, but some A3s are built in Hungary. Audi Hungaria Motor is based in Györ and started series production of the A3 Saloon and A3 Cabriolet in 2013. A year later, the plant also started series production of the TT Coupe and TT Roadster.

European cars: leave or remain?HUNGARY: Mercedes-Benz CLA – LEAVE

Amazing, isn’t it? When the Mercedes-Benz CLA was complete, somebody, somewhere, took a look at the car and said: yes, that looks very smart indeed. The Audi A3 is an example of how to create a good looking medium-size saloon. The CLA, on the other hand, isn’t. Hungary – you can keep it.

European cars: leave or remain?ITALY: Ferrari 488 GTB – REMAIN

There are many Italian cars we love – take your pick from the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani stables for starters. Others include the Fiat Panda, Alfa Romeo Giulia and Abarth 595. Our choice would be the Ferrari 488 GTB, because it encapsulates all that we love about Italian cars.

European cars: leave or remain?ITALY: Fiat Punto – LEAVE

The Fiat Punto is the unfortunate victim here, but that’s only because our first choice, the 500L, is built in Serbia, a nation currently outside of the EU. We like the Punto for its ‘mini Maserati’ styling, but alongside more modern superminis it’s feeling very dated.

European cars: leave or remain?NETHERLANDS: Spyker C8 Preliator – REMAIN

We don’t know what they’ve been smoking at Spyker, but if the C8 Preliator is anything to go by, we suggest they keep puffing. Adding a supercharger to Audi’s 4.2-litre V8 engine creates a 525hp hypercar wrapped in a body said to be inspired by aircraft design. Enough power to take off and leave – which is something the Remain campaigners won’t want to read.

European cars: leave or remain?POLAND: Fiat 500 – REMAIN

The quintessentially Italian small car just happens to be built in Poland. The Fiat Auto Poland plant has a long history of building Fiat cars, dating back to the construction of Polski Fiat 126p.

European cars: leave or remain?POLAND: Lancia Ypsilon – LEAVE

For a short while, the Lancia Ypsilon was available in the UK as the Chrysler Ypsilon. The car was facelifted in 2015 and subsequently subjected to a Euro NCAP safety test. It’s miserable two-star rating suggests it’s time to, er…  call time on the Lancia with the hard-to-spell name.

European cars: leave or remain?PORTUGAL: SEAT Alhambra – REMAIN

The original SEAT Alhambra, Volkswagen Sharan and Ford Galaxy rolled off the same AutoEuropa production line in Portugal. When Ford and Volkswagen went their separate ways, the plant continued to produce the Alhambra and Sharan, along with the Volkswagen EOS and Scirocco.

European cars: leave or remain?ROMANIA: Dacia Duster – REMAIN

The Dacia Duster is a truly global SUV, produced in far away places such as Romania, Brazil, India and Indonesia. It’s our favourite cut-price SUV and therefore wins the right to remain.

European cars: leave or remain?ROMANIA: Ford EcoSport – LEAVE

It’s fair to say we’re not big fans of the Ford EcoSport, but with European sales more than tripling in 2015, not everyone agrees with us. To capitalise on its success, Ford is set to invest 200 million euros in its Craiova plant to build the EcoSport for European markets. To paraphrase Barry Davies: look at its face, just look at its face.

European cars: leave or remain?SLOVAKIA: Volkswagen Up – REMAIN

We’ve run out of superlatives to describe the really-rather-good Volkswagen Up and its SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo siblings. Bratislava can be rightly proud of its brilliant city car.

European cars: leave or remain?SLOVAKIA: Porsche Cayenne – LEAVE

We have to thank the Cayenne for enabling Porsche to do fun things with the 911, but we find it hard to love the SUV. We’re not sure if it’s the styling, the price or the image. Probably a combination of the three.

European cars: leave or remain?SLOVENIA: Renault Twingo – REMAIN

A rear-engine, rear-wheel drive city car – yes please. We like the Twingo for its different take on the city car recipe and we’re salivating over the prospect of the new GT model. Is this French fancy Slovenia’s finest export?

European cars: leave or remain?SLOVENIA: Smart Forfour – LEAVE

The Smart Forfour rolls off the same production line and adds some extra practicality to the Fortwo/Twingo. But it comes at a price and we’re not sure many passengers will thank you for confining them to the rear seats.

European cars: leave or remain?SPAIN: Citroen C4 Cactus – REMAIN

The Citroen C4 Cactus – so chic, so innovative, so different, so French. Only it isn’t French at all. The C4 Cactus is built in Spain. Sorry Gareth Bale, when it comes to flair and panache, this is the real star of Madrid.

European cars: leave or remain?SPAIN: Citroen C3: LEAVE

Meanwhile, the Citroen C3, which forms the basis of the C4 Cactus, is an ageing supermini that’s well past its sell-by date. Fortunately there’s a new version waiting in the wings, which is expected to land this summer.

European cars: leave or remain?SWEDEN: Volvo XC90 – REMAIN

Sweden has given so much to Europe – Abba, IKEA, meatballs, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Roxette and Saga from The Bridge. Oh, and not forgetting the new Volvo XC90 – a near faultless SUV and contender for the cliched all-the-car-you-could-ever-need award.

European cars: leave or remain?SWEDEN: Volvo S60 Cross Country – LEAVE

For some reason we have a soft spot for the Volvo S60 Cross Country – the high-riding saloon car that answers a question nobody ever asked. But it’s a niche too far, which is why we’re asking it to leave.

European cars: leave or remain?UNITED KINGDOM: McLaren 675LT – REMAIN

It’s only fair that we include the UK in this virtual tour of Europe. The question is: which car should represent the nation teetering on the edge of EU membership? A Nissan Qashqai? Jaguar F-Pace? MINI Hatch? No, it has to be the McLaren 675LT – a charismatic and entertaining example of British engineering.

European cars: leave or remain?UNITED KINGDOM: MINI Coupe – LEAVE

As for the MINI Coupe, we would be quite happy if it packed its bag and headed across the English Channel, never to be seen again. Perhaps it can live on a desert island with only a MINI Paceman and a Wilson volleyball for company.

Toyota Burnaston

Brexit: Toyota and Unite clear up 'unfortunate' confusion

Toyota BurnastonToyota and the Unite union have jointly written to Toyota UK staff to “put the record straight” on Toyota’s position on the UK’s European Referendum – and criticised “unfortunate and repeated misrepresentation” of it by Vote Leave and Leave.EU.

Toyota originally didn’t want to get drawn into the ‘Brexit’ issue and, while this remains the case, it says it’s now essential it clarifies its position given such on-going misrepresentation.

Which is? “Toyota and Unite have said that from the business perspective, we firmly believe that continued British membership of the EU is best for our operations and our long term competitiveness.

“We believe we will face significant business challenges as a result of a decision to withdraw from the EU.” The open letter goes on to list these, with reasons including the simple fact the Burnaston and Deeside plants were originally built in the UK to make cars and engines for Europe

Open, free access to the EU is of “critical importance” to the business, says Toyota: 90% of British-built vehicles are exported – and 75% go to Europe, where there are no tariffs or duties.

“If the UK leaves the EU, we think it unlikely that the UK can keep the current trading arrangements… this would mean we would have to pay duties on cars. This could be as much as 10% for cars, leading to either huge cost reduction challenges for us or more expensive cars for our customers.

“New trade agreements may be negotiated but these take many years to agree and the outcome is also uncertain, however we do know that they cannot be better than what we have now, 0% for our main European markets.”

Toyota still doesn’t take an official position in the letter, simply advising staff to “vote as you think is right”. But anything that adds to the cost and complexity of building in Britain, it says, “will make it harder for us to compete and win new business”.

It may not be an official position, but it’s still clear what outcome Toyota and Unite are hoping for on Thursday…

Toyota Burnaston

Brexit: Toyota and Unite clear up ‘unfortunate’ confusion

Toyota BurnastonToyota and the Unite union have jointly written to Toyota UK staff to “put the record straight” on Toyota’s position on the UK’s European Referendum – and criticised “unfortunate and repeated misrepresentation” of it by Vote Leave and Leave.EU.

Toyota originally didn’t want to get drawn into the ‘Brexit’ issue and, while this remains the case, it says it’s now essential it clarifies its position given such on-going misrepresentation.

Which is? “Toyota and Unite have said that from the business perspective, we firmly believe that continued British membership of the EU is best for our operations and our long term competitiveness.

“We believe we will face significant business challenges as a result of a decision to withdraw from the EU.” The open letter goes on to list these, with reasons including the simple fact the Burnaston and Deeside plants were originally built in the UK to make cars and engines for Europe

Open, free access to the EU is of “critical importance” to the business, says Toyota: 90% of British-built vehicles are exported – and 75% go to Europe, where there are no tariffs or duties.

“If the UK leaves the EU, we think it unlikely that the UK can keep the current trading arrangements… this would mean we would have to pay duties on cars. This could be as much as 10% for cars, leading to either huge cost reduction challenges for us or more expensive cars for our customers.

“New trade agreements may be negotiated but these take many years to agree and the outcome is also uncertain, however we do know that they cannot be better than what we have now, 0% for our main European markets.”

Toyota still doesn’t take an official position in the letter, simply advising staff to “vote as you think is right”. But anything that adds to the cost and complexity of building in Britain, it says, “will make it harder for us to compete and win new business”.

It may not be an official position, but it’s still clear what outcome Toyota and Unite are hoping for on Thursday…

Nissan Sunderland

Furious Nissan taking legal action against Vote Leave in Brexit row

Nissan SunderlandNissan is seeking an injunction in the High Court against the EU Vote Leave campaign following persistent use of the firm’s name and logo without permission.

The official European Referendum ‘Brexit’ campaign has, says Nissan, used the firm’s name and logo in its literature and on its website – even after Nissan’s “repeated requests for them to stop.

Brexit Remain vote ‘critical’ warns UK automotive industry

“Permission to use our name and logo was not requested. If it was, it would not have been granted.” Nissan says Vote Leave’s use of its brand symbol “grossly misrepresents our widely circulated and publically stated position”.

Nissan has thus issued legal proceedings in the High Court, “asking for an injunction to stop Vote Leave’s use of Nissan’s name and logo, and to prevent them from making any further false statements and misrepresentations concerning Nissan”.

Rather than taking sides in the Brexit referendum, Nissan is not supporting any political campaign, deeming it “a matter for the people of the UK to decide”.

It did, however, say in February that it would prefer Britain remained in the EU: “For us, a position of stability is more favourable than a collection of unknowns,” said Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

8 in 10 Nissans built in the UK are exported, with most of them going to other European markets.

Len McCluskey

Unite union warns Brexit Leave vote ‘jeopardises jobs’

Len McCluskeyBritain’s largest trade union, Unite, has warned that tens of thousands of automotive jobs are at risk if the UK votes to leave the European Union in this Thursday’s referendum.

In a strongly worded statement, the union said EU demand for British-built cars directly creates manufacturing jobs for working class communities, and each one indirectly creates four more in the wider industry – jobs that would be in jeopardy if Britain votes Leave on Thursday.

“Leaving the EU is not ‘taking back control,” said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, “it would mean losing control of our ability to create work and prosperity for the UK’s people.

“It would be a terrible gamble with people’s jobs. Britain is better off remaining in the EU.”

Unite, which has 1.4 million members, says the UK automotive industry is the most productive in Europe “because our workforce has been tireless in its efforts to make sure that UK built means world class.

“Leaving the EU puts all this hard work, all that graft, all the rights that protect workers and good businesses from cowboy employers, and all our skills and investment in jeopardy.

The jobs of tens of thousands of men, women and apprentices would be at risk as we lose our biggest customer base and the £134 billion manufacturing workers bring our economy.”

Nissan Great Britain

Brexit Remain vote ‘critical’ warns UK car industry

Nissan Great BritainThe UK automotive industry says a ‘Remain’ vote in this Thursday’s European Referendum is “critical to the future” of the industry – and has warned a vote to Leave for Brexit could jeopardise jobs and investment.

Supporting 800,000 jobs in the UK, the UK automotive industry is a major player and its trade body, the SMMT, has spoken today to deliver “absolute clarity on the sector’s position given recent misrepresentations.

“There should be no ambiguity about the sector’s views ahead of such a critical vote.”

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said a Remain vote will continue the automotive industry’s success, “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.”

80% of cars built in Britain are exported, helping contribute £15.5 billion annually to the UK economy: nearly 6 in 10 go to Europe.

“Remaining will allow the UK to retain the influence on which the unique and successful UK automotive sector depends,” said Hawes.

Automotive industry leaders back Remain

The SMMT carried out a survey ahead of the campaigning period to find out members’ views on the European Referendum vote. 77% backed Remain; 9% backed Leave.

“Notably no large company said that an exit would be in their business’ best interests.”

Key reasons given for a remain vote by the SMMT include:

  • 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
  • Free movement of labour

The trade body has also today released statements from senior chiefs from Britain’s biggest automotive industry players.

Ken Gregor, Chief Financial Officer of Jaguar Land Rover: “Remaining in the EU – our largest market – will increase Jaguar Land Rover’s chances to grow, create jobs and attract investment in future technologies. Our European supply chain has been fundamental in helping us to meet customer expectations worldwide and achieve sustainable, profitable growth.”

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

Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, BMW AG: “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.”

Rory Harvey, Managing Director and Chairman of Vauxhall: “We are part of a fully integrated European company where we benefit from the free movement of goods and people. We believe not to be part of the EU would be undesirable for our business and the sector as a whole.”