A Brexit transition agreement will be ‘critical’ to Ford’s British investments if a trade agreement can’t be signed in the next two years, according to the head of its European operation.
Speaking at the FT Future of the Car Summit in London Jim Farley, the CEO and chairman of Ford's Europe, said the firm's UK infrastructure could be affected if the movement of goods from Britain into the European Union is made more difficult following Brexit.
“We believe in a transition period. If an agreement is not done, there should be a transition period, that’s critical for our investments in the UK."
Farley added that Ford expects an agreement between Britain and the EU to be signed, but cautioned: "Eighteen months is not much time in which to do a deal.
Farley also talked about issues including the free movement of people, the Customs Union and the flow of trade across the UK/EU border in future. Farley raised concerns about the potential for what he termed 'friction loss' at the UK border. "It means more trucks, cash trapped and time lost," he said.
Ford is now "spending a lot of time" trying to work out solutions to the problems of how to organsie its logistics post-Brexit. “There is a lot to do, but we have to be very ambitious, we are optimistic,” he said.
Further mobility developments predicted
While speaking at the Future of the Car Summit, Farley also talked about the future of autonomous driving. He predicted major breakthroughs would come in a second-wave of developments, which he termed "mobility 2.0".
“Now we’re in mobility 1.0. What’s exciting is 2.0 when the car is totally integrated into the city system," he said.
Farley drew parallels between the development of smartphone technology, in which the first wave of hardware was followed by a second wave of applications and commerce development that delivered the real benefits of the technology.
"We're already learning what mobility 2.0 will look like," he said. "Multimedia will become important. And one of the answers to the challenges is collaboration between Ford and the city," he said.
Farley also raised the possibility of a new mobility internet portal, emerging alongside Google and Facebook. He said: "What’s the Google search for mobility? It might not be Google or Facebook."