Stark no-deal Brexit warnings could change trade directions for car handling

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 5 Mar 2019

The South Humber Bank’s car handling might could see some major Brexit-related shifts as key customers issue stark warnings.

Toyota has said a no-deal scenario would make it “extremely complicated” for the Japanese firm to build new models in the UK.

Currently vehicles leave the giant manufacturing plant at Derby via North East Lincolnshire for European markets, with a specialist handling facility on the port just off the A180 at Westgate.

Such a change would see only models destined for UK showrooms cross the quayside. 

Didier Leroy, chairman of Toyota’s European operations, said a no-deal outcome to EU withdrawal talks would be “terrible” and would create “big additional challenges” to UK operations’ competitiveness.

His comments came after Honda announced that it is closing its plant in Swindon and Nissan ditched plans to produce the X-Trail SUV in Sunderland, though both companies said the decisions were driven by factors other than Brexit.

Toyota began production of its new hybrid-powered Corolla model at its plant in January. It was an unsuccessful target for inward investment in northern Lincolnshire back in the late Eighties.

Mr Leroy told the Financial Times that the £240 million investment in the model was made on “significant trust in the UK that they would be able to achieve a good deal in Europe”.

He stressed that Toyota had “no plan today to withdraw from the UK and stop production”.

But he added: “If we don’t have access to the European market without a specific border tax, it seems to be extremely complicated to think about ... introduction of another model.”

Mr Leroy told the FT: “No-deal is terrible, it will create big additional challenges to keep competitiveness.”

He said Parliament had “to decide what’s best for employment” when voting next week on whether to leave without a deal, urging MPs: “Don’t create a huge mountain.”

It comes as the future of the Mini factory at Cowley, near Oxford, would be thrown into doubt if there is a no-deal scenario, parent company BMW said.

The German firm, which imports BMW’s via a brand new facility at North Killingholme, said production of Minis could be moved to Holland if the UK crashed out of the European Union without a deal on March 29. While it would spell devastation down south, it could ramp up demand for port services, with Bristol and Southampton understood to be current export ports. 

More space is currently being prepared to hold more vehicles in Grimsby, boosting capacity, with the transformation of a large part of the former Huntsman Tioxide plant by Associated British Ports. 

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