German automaker BMW sees a 50:50 chance of Britain exiting the European Union without a trade agreement, which would require it to move more production of Mini vehicles to the Netherlands, CEO Harald Krueger stated.
“I told UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union that if there is a hard Brexit, both sides are losers. We will no longer fulfill trade agreements and then we are forced to build the car in the Netherlands,” Krueger informed journalists at the Paris Motor Show.
“Hard Brexit is presently not our main scenario but we are preparing for it. We see a 50:50 chance.”
BMW presently constructs majority of its Mini vehicles at a plant located in Oxford, southern England, but depends heavily on components imported from BMW’s German plants. Oxford comprised about 60 percent of the 378,486 Minis produced in 2017.
If Britain tumbled out of the EU without a deal on March 29, Oxford’s status as the major global exporting hub for Mini would be put at risk, Krueger stated.
When asked if a hard Brexit would make the Netherlands the major exporting hub for providing customers in the European Union, Krueger said: “Yes.”
BMW has quietly constructed Netherlands-based contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar as a new export base for its Mini brand.
At VDL Nedcar, staffing levels have increased to around 7,200, from around 4,500 last year and 1,450 in 2014.
By contrast, staffing levels at BMW’s British plant have remained relatively stable during the same period, with just more than 4,500 people working on constructing Minis in Oxford.
Sales in Britain have already suffered in middle of the the uncertainty over the future, Krueger stated.