Brexit: No deal could halt production at UK Toyota plants
Japanese manufacturer said there could be temporary stoppages if there are border checks
The Burnaston plant in south Derbyshire is one of nine the Japanese car giant has in the UK. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
The Japanese car manufacturer is the latest in a list of foreign car companies to say there could be temporary stoppages and maybe even job losses if there are checks at Dover and Calais as a result of no deal.
“My view is that if Britain crashes out of the EU at the end of March we will see production stops in our factory,” Marvin Cooke, the managing director at the firm’s plant in Burnaston, near Derby, told the BBC.
Asked how long the production stoppages would last, he said: “We can’t predict – it could be hours, days, weeks – even months.”
His warning follows statements by Jaguar Land Rover and BMW over the consequences of no deal for the British car manufacturing business, which employs more than 186,000 people directly and more than 856,000 indirectly.
Greg Clark, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the Chequers Brexit proposal was “a very practical set of proposals precisely calibrated to avoid those checks”.
He said he disagreed with the assessment that the EU had rejected Chequers and said there would be a heavy toll to pay across the EU with car manufacturers if a deal was not struck.
But he admitted that Britain would lose its potential as one of the world’s leaders in car innovation if there was no deal. “To see that slip through our fingers is something that we would regret for ever,” he said.
The Burnaston plant in south Derbyshire is one of nine the Japanese car giant has in the UK and is the home of the Toyota Auris and the Avensis. Toyota has plans to take on 400 new staff as part of a £250 million investment in a new production line for an updated Corolla.
It produces cars worth £12 million a day with components arriving every 37 minutes as part of the “just-in-time” production process, which means car manufacturers do not store parts in on-site warehouses.
Instead its factories rely on smooth delivery of parts from within the UK and especially Europe, from where 1,000 lorries a day cross the channel with parts for car manufacturers in Oxford, the Midlands, the north and the north-east.
Mr Cooke said Toyota was looking at its options for storage but said checks and delays would add costs to the bottom line permanently.
“It would reduce our competitiveness. Sadly, that would reduce the number of cars made in the UK and that would cost jobs.”
Last week Honda said it would look to stockpile some components as a contingency. Earlier this month JLR announced that 2,000 staff would move to a three-day week at its Castle Bromwich plant just hours after it was accused of “scaremongering” by a hard Brexiter MP.
BMW announced it was planning to shut its Oxfordshire plant for a month to minimise the impact of a no-deal Brexit that it fears would cause a shortage of parts. – Guardian Service