UK plans to split from EU regulations provoke industry backlash

Shifting from EU standards would jeopardise UK plants, senior Toyota executive warns

Toyota has two manufacturing facilities in Britain, a vehicle manufacturing plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire and an engine plant in Deeside, Wales. The UK manufacturing operation employs more than 3,800 workers directly.

Toyota has two manufacturing facilities in Britain, a vehicle manufacturing plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire and an engine plant in Deeside, Wales. The UK manufacturing operation employs more than 3,800 workers directly.

 

Britain’s car and aerospace industries have led criticism of UK government plans to split from European regulations after Brexit, warning it will cost “billions” of pounds and damage “UK manufacturing and consumer choice”.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders issued a statement after Sajid Javid, the chancellor, told the Financial Times that there would “not be alignment” with European Union rules after Britain left the bloc, and that companies would have to “adjust”.

A senior Toyota executive last week warned that any move away from EU standards could put the future of its UK manufacturing operations in jeopardy.

Matt Harrison, executive vice-president of Toyota, told The Irish Times: “All of our lobbying activity and briefing towards the UK government is about protecting one set of standards. It’s extremely difficult for automotive companies to start looking at multiple levels of standards. The scale of opportunity in individual markets is not sufficient to justify that level of complexity.”

Toyota has two manufacturing facilities in Britain, a vehicle manufacturing plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire producing the current Corolla hatchback and estate, and an engine plant in Deeside, Wales. The UK manufacturing operation employs more than 3,800 workers directly.

Carmakers at present are able to sell cars across the EU and the UK under one certificate. The process, called homologation, involves expensive procedures such as engineering the vehicles to meet emissions standards. Costly crash tests are also required to meet the regulations.

If Britain abandons EU standards and sets its own rules, companies wanting to sell vehicles in the UK are likely to need to obtain a separate certificate to do so, increasing their costs of making vehicles specifically for the British market.

Mr Harrison, who was previously managing director and president of Toyota UK, said: “Remember more than 90 per cent of the production in the UK is going out to other European markets. It would cause us a lot of difficulty if there was some sort of variation.”

A senior aerospace industry source described Mr Javid’s position as unhelpful.

“We do need alignment, particularly around the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. We are no different from the automotive industry in that regard. We are looking for alignment on both.”

On Friday Mr Javid told the FT that businesses “have known since 2016 that we are leaving the EU” and said they would be forced to adjust to new rules. – Additional reporting: The Financial Times Limited 2020