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Toyota Joins Rival Carmakers in Sounding Brexit Alarm Bell

March 5, 2019
BMW, Volkswagen, PSA also warn about potential disruption.

Toyota Motor Corp. has added its voice to warnings about potential Brexit fallout as the deadline for an agreement on the U.K.’s European Union exit looms less than four weeks away.

Possible disruption to trade between Britain and the EU is Toyota’s “biggest concern,” the Japanese company’s Europe chief, Johan van Zyl, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV at the Geneva motor show on Tuesday. BMW AG, which moved forward a planned four-week production stop to coincide with the U.K. leaving the EU, is also stockpiling parts, CEO Harald Krueger told reporters on the sidelines of the event.

“We’re working with several scenarios,” Krueger said. “If Brexit is delayed, we’re going to plan flexibly, delay some plans, but we’ve also stocked up our parts in case of a disruption in our supply chain.” The German company has between two days and a week’s worth of supply, depending on the part, he said.

The latest warnings from the global car industry come after Honda Motor Co. said it would shutter its U.K. plant and Ford Motor Co. warned of catastrophic consequences in a no-deal split from the EU, although that extreme scenario appears to be off the table for now.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has promised Parliament that it will be able to vote to extend the exit deadline until the end of June should a deal not be reached, and EU officials signaled they would be open to an extension. Meanwhile, two of May’s ministers travel to Brussels Tuesday to seek concessions to help win Parliament’s backing for her divorce deal.

In the run-up to Brexit, carmakers with British operations have been trying to limit the pain. Nissan Motor Co. reversed an earlier plan to build the X-Trail sport utility vehicle in northern England, while BMW, which makes the iconic Mini and Rolls-Royce cars in the U.K., said it could move manufacturing elsewhere if tariffs and border checks disrupt business.

“We can’t prepare any more than we have” for Brexit, BMW’s purchasing chief, Andreas Wendt, said in an interview in Geneva Tuesday, adding that the German company is committed to the U.K. market long term.

BMW buys about 700 million euros (US$793 million) worth of parts in the U.K, compared with components worth 2 billion euros that it imports into the country, Wendt said.

By Oliver Sachgau and Ania Nussbaum

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Licensed content from Bloomberg, copyright 2016.

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