Brexit: BMW could shift production from UK to Austria in event of no deal, board member reveals

The German car maker employs 8,000 people in the UK

Caitlin Morrison
Tuesday 05 March 2019 13:08
Man who worked at Honda Swindon for 24 years sums out Brexit in 6 words

BMW may move some of its engine production from the UK to Austria in the event of a no-deal Brexit, one of its board members revealed on Tuesday.

“We have some flexibility on the engine side with Steyr in Austria,” Peter Shwarzenbauer told Reuters at the Geneva car show. “We would need to make some adjustments toward Steyr. We are preparing to be able to do it.”

Schwarzenbauer also told Sky News that BMW will “have to consider” ending Mini production at its Oxford plant if the UK leaves the EU with no deal in place.

The car maker has previously announced plans to bring a planned shutdown of its Oxford site forward to begin on the same day the UK leaves the EU.

The group also has plants at Hams Hall, Goodwood and Swindon, and a sales and marketing branch in Farnborough. The German brand employs 8,000 people directly in the UK, and supports around 14,000 more jobs through retail networks.

BMW is one of many motor manufacturers to make a start on contingency plans in an effort to reduce the potential disruption a hard Brexit.

Also on Tuesday, the head of Toyota’s European operations said a disorderly Brexit could put future investment at its UK factory near Derby at risk.

Jaguar Land Rover announced last year that it was moving workers at its Castle Bromwich plant to a three-day week because of “continuing headwinds impacting the car industry”. Its chief executive has warned repeatedly of the risks Brexit poses to the sector.

Last month, Honda announced plans to close its Swindon plant, putting 3,500 jobs at risk.

Meanwhile, the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed UK car exports slumped by one-fifth and production fell for an eighth successive month in January.

The trade body said this was evidence of the “clear and present danger” of a no-deal Brexit.

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