Car maker believes its British identity is key, but its CEO admits export tariffs could force it into continental Europe

Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer has emphasised the need for Britain to secure a tariff-free trade deal with Europe, stating that a ‘worst case scenario’ could force the company to move to continental Europe.

Speaking to Reuters at the Geneva motor show, he said the brand’s British identity and Crewe production plant were key to its success, but that “before we would not produce any Bentleys anymore, we would produce them somewhere else”.

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, is set to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon this month, allowing the UK to leave the European Union (EU). Bentley is among several brands pressuring her government to negotiate a deal whereby cars can be exported to Europe without incurring fees.

Europe is fast becoming Bentley’s biggest market, and access to technology and staff from its German parent company Volkswagen has been pivotal to its success.

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Dürheimer said that Bentley employees would need to be able to travel freely around the continent without visas to remain competitive with Europe-based rivals. If the British Government is unable to confirm such a scenario, Bentley may be forced to take action.

"I have about nine to 12 months where I can wait and see what's going to happen and then I need to take serious decisions. It's all connected to future models," Dürheimer said.

Toyota also voiced its concerns over Brexit at the Geneva motor show, with executive vice president Didier Leroy telling Reuters that production of the next-generation Auris may be moved from Britain if tariffs are introduced.

“By 2018 probably we have to make some decision, but it doesn't mean to start the investment," he said, suggesting the Japanese manufacturer will decide whether to further invest in its Burnaston plant once Britain’s Brexit plans have been revealed.

Conversely, Opel/Vauxhall’s new owner, the PSA Group, has said that tariffs may leave its brands with a competitive advantage, because it could optimise its Vauxhall plants for British supply of PSA products and therefore avoid additional costs.

PSA boss Carlos Tavares said: “Car makers fear that leaving the European market will result in applied tariffs for exporting and importing vehicles to Great Britain.

"If Peugeot were to have a car plant in Britain, it would overcome such tariffs.”

Our Verdict

Bentley Continental GT

Full of character and still able to impress, particularly as a V8

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Comments
12

9 March 2017
as manufacturer sales departments spin their products provenance. Its how they persuade you that their product is worth the premium prices. You cannot buy heritage so moving production for Bentley would be a very big deal. I would imagine these comments are originating from VW head office as VW, AUDI, SEAT, SKODA would be affected far more by tariffs.

9 March 2017
Rolls Royce and Bentley manufacture the car bodies abroad and just assemble in the Uk,they should be fully manufactured in the Uk like Aston Martin, I know the latter has imported engines but I suppose it is hard to have a genuine product these days fully manufactured in say Germany or the Uk ,Italy etc.

9 March 2017
Just another example of Britain not owning much these days. They should have written a clause when these 'UK' brands were sold, that unless the cars are made in UK, the Marque names could not be used to manufacture abroad.

9 March 2017
Stuff that needs to go to the UK to build cars will hit British import tariffs, so will the cars once they are shipped out to the EU. It is unlikely that May will compensate all car makers for this. That would be like a blank check at the expense of the British taxpayer. I don't blame the Brits for Brexit. The EU is much to blame for being that rigid on immigration policies, that the UK felt forced to call it quits.

9 March 2017
"Stuff that needs to go to the UK to build cars will hit British import tariffs, so will the cars once they are shipped out to the EU. It is unlikely that May will compensate all car makers for this. That would be like a blank check at the expense of the British taxpayer. I don't blame the Brits for Brexit. The EU is much to blame for being that rigid on immigration policies, that the UK felt forced to call it quits" She's already promised taxpayer subsidies to foreign manufacturers operating in the UK. This has the potential to be a disaster. I've said it all along since the vote was announced - Britain's industrial base is almost entirely under foreign stewardship which makes the entire concept of Brexit extraordinarily dangerous.

9 March 2017
Haha what a joke! Ludicrous proposal. These are ultra luxury cars. Just whack another 20 grand on top. Bentleys made in outside of England? Horrendous. I know Rolls-Royce made some cars in the USA back in the day but this USP is one of their big selling points.

9 March 2017
This isn't any thing new some Flying Spur's were built in the VAG Transparent Factory near Dresden when production of the VW Phaeton didn't sell as well as expected. When production of the Phaeton ended in 2016 it became an exhibition area. Now call me a cynic if they can produce the Audi Q7/Porsche Cayenne/Volkswagen Toureg in Slovakia the Audi Q5 in Mexico,why not build Bentley's in Germany, after all these days it's the brand not heritage of the marque that matters isn't it?

9 March 2017
I am quite certain that all Bentley bodies have and are built at the Phaeton plant you mention,it must cost a fortune to bring them over on lorries,what a waste of co2 and money,so much for bentley and the environment.they should be Uk built not just assembled .At least the w12 engine is now Uk built.

9 March 2017
As 'rare' said, is price of any relevance on these vehicles? I think not when the initial depreciation alone is enough to buy a decent house (well in the civilised world, not London of course). I do strongly think a lot of companies have been waiting for an excuse to ship jobs out of the UK and Brexit isn't one, they just think it looks like one - enough to get away with it.

9 March 2017
......shite! we live ina global economy with commodities priced in dollars, more often than not. The economy is more than just exchange rates and tariffs, the UK employment law is more biased towards the employer than tbe employee than most of continental Europe. The Germans have a cheek to suggest they will pull UK production of a high ticket item like Bentley if brexit doesn't go their way - BMW and Mercedes have been building all their high end 4x4s in the poor southern states of the USA for a long time. The answer, post-brexit is simple. We lose a factory in Crewe/Ellesmere Port/Luton/Sunderland we impose punitave import duties on ALL EU car imports to the tune of at least 50% whilst giving grants to the remaining UK manufacturing base. Let's see who blinks first! We import more than we export and havent run a surplus since we joined the EC in the 70's, it's about time we reversed this situation, turned our backs on Europe and concentrate on the other 6 billion consumers on this planet . We need to turn to the commonwealth and concentrate on emerging markets rather than the corruption ridden, basket case Europe has become. This is not a Party Political broadcast for UKIP btw! Just a personal opinion lol
Sarky traffic cops before speed cameras were invented.......... "Having trouble taking off Wing Commander?"

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