In the run-up to the referendum, the UK vehicle industry was amongst the loudest voices on the Remain side. But one voice remained especially missing from the debate: Andy Palmer, president of Aston Martin.
However speaking to City A.M., Palmer suggests not only that Brexit is not likely to rain fire and brimstone on the country’s automobile makers – however that, must the government’s negotiations settle, it could in fact serve to benefit UK auto producers. At first sight this is remarkably positive for somebody in the process of turning around a car brand name which, by his own admission, has never truly been profitable.
We can see why car-makers are so worried about the impact of Brexit: under World Trade Organisation guidelines, which the UK would have to adhere to if it can not negotiate a bespoke trade deal with the EU, manufacturers might be slapped with a 10 percent tariff on exports to Europe.
However that is a highly not likely outcome, argues Palmer.
“If you look at vehicles produced in Europe for European consumption, 20 percent of them are sold in the UK,” he states.
“Why would the Germans and the French and the Italians [let tariffs happen] It would ruin their European success.”
As well as in the worst-case circumstance, the pound will concern their rescue.
“[Since the vote] very approximately, the pound has diminished versus the euro by about 10 percent – which simply happens to be about the very same as the tariff barrier we’re discussing.
“The best condition is, we manage a weak pound, we do not have tariffs, and the UK becomes a remarkably credible place to make automobiles.”
Why such strong opinions? In the run-up to the referendum, shortly prior to Brexit became the table flash point of option, Aston had surveyed its employees – and found 3 quarters were preparing to vote Leave.
“Who am I to inform them they’re incorrect?” asks Palmer. “I’m glad I didn’t take a side.”