Senior Ford boss joins the list of car industry execs to warn of potential consequences of leaving the EU
Darren Moss
21 January 2014

Ford's European boss Stephen Odell has warned the company would have to reassess its long-term plans in the UK if the country were to leave the European Union.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Odell said: "I don't want to threaten the British government. [But] I would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes and for employment purposes in the UK."

Pointing out the potential consequences of such an action, Odell said: "You'd have to look at everything… clearly we wouldn't be alone in doing that. Would it mean tariffs? Would it mean duties? We'd take a look at what it meant."

Ford has subsequently released a statement explaining those comments, saying they were in response to a hypothetical question and were "not a statement of intent by Ford Motor Company".

The government is currently in talks over whether the UK should remain in the European Union. One of the chief concerns raised by Chancellor George Osborne has been the need for the EU to do more to protect the interests of non-eurozone states, while also increasing competitiveness with China and India. 

If the UK were to leave the EU without joining the European Free Trade Association, exporting items could be made difficult for businesses based in this country.

In November last year Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said his company would have to reconsider its investments in the UK if it left the European Union. 

Speaking with BBC News, Ghosn said: "Everything has been done in the UK today considering that the UK is part of Europe. Obviously if a decision has to be made contrary to this then we will need to reconsider our strategy."

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289

21 January 2014
I am tired of Auto Industry heads firing warning shots across the bows of British subjects....in case they 'make the wrong decision' about Europe and our part within the EU in a few years time.
Ford have quite frankly got a bloody cheek given that with the closure of Southampton they no longer have any production in the UK.
All these veiled threats that " exporting items could be made difficult for businesses based in this country" simply wont wash.
If there is a demand for UK services then they will be procured, its that simple....this vision of us being 'sent to Coventry' or the naughty step is scaremongering.
The people WILL decide on the day (well, those who can be bothered to get off their backsides), regardless of Stephen Odell and Carlos Ghosn telling us what to think thank you very much.

21 January 2014
Strong words, the UK might lose the Mondeo and Transit assembly plants and Dagenham and Southampton...

Oh, wait...

For the remaining engine plants they could pull a 'Visteon' like the Belfast plant - spin it off to an offshoot company then wash their hands of any pension commitments.

21 January 2014
As an outsider it is funny to observe the level of irrationality some UK subjects have whenever the EU pops up.

Fact: Ford UK operates 3 major facilities today, Dagenham, Bridgend and Dunton. Between them they employ about 10,000 employees, with another 15-20,000 in the chain of supply.

Fact: if UK leaves the EU, then an import duty could be levied on all imports to the EU - much like the 10% that now affects American imports.

Fact: if UK services become more expensive they become less attractive.

Fact: the import duty together with exchange rate risks would have a significant impact on the bottom line of any company seriously involved in exporting. Any rational management will have to reassess their investment plans if significant new elements come into play. That may involve pulling a Visteon, indeed.

And another Fact shows that companies are not necessarily waiting for an outcome: in 2013, for the first time in over a decade, the UK has lost its pole position for receiving Direct Foreign Investments in Europe. Now Germany is leading.

21 January 2014
Grunt;
You like to use the word fact how odd you miss one or two,we
buy more from the EU than we sell to them FACT.
You write about an import duty,if we imposed an import duty they would suffer more than we
also we are now exporting more and more to other parts of the world.
.Also I find some of your words very rude indeed,how dare you use the word irrationality,who
the hell do you think you are?
Unlike you it would seem we like to run our own country not let some idiot want to run it for us.
If Ford want to go,by by,they close the odd factory when they like, fools like you make me
wonder which planet you live on?
Which ever one it is go back home and keep you big mouth shut !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!..

21 January 2014
Ford is losing money hand over fist, it currently has the UK's 2 best selling cars in its range, the Fiesta and the Focus, I would accept there offer to withdraw from the UK, and call their bluff, they cannot afford it, and IMO they are no longer genuinely interested in Europe, as can be seen by the length of time it is taking them to get the new Mondeo on sale, and can they afford to write off all the money spent on tooling up the new models for RHD. (Yes I do realise there are other RHD markets, but not with the profit margins they can make here).

21 January 2014
Citytiger wrote:

Ford is losing money hand over fist, it currently has the UK's 2 best selling cars in its range, the Fiesta and the Focus, I would accept there offer to withdraw from the UK, and call their bluff, they cannot afford it, and IMO they are no longer genuinely interested in Europe, as can be seen by the length of time it is taking them to get the new Mondeo on sale, and can they afford to write off all the money spent on tooling up the new models for RHD. (Yes I do realise there are other RHD markets, but not with the profit margins they can make here).

I agree that Ford has a lot to lose if it were to pull out of UK market, however I doubt it will. Comments on Ford's focus outside the EU is probably correct as EU is a stagnant market, shafted with oversupply and very expensive Marketing, PR and logistics chains. That this is the second major world manufacturer commenting on such matters does need to be heeded. From personal experience, I have worked with production facilities within Central Europe within and outside the EU. All I can say is that costs for supply, logistics and legislation requirements are 2-3 times higher outside the EU. In fact opting for the EU company was the main criteria for choosing the path we did. If that is for a small company, then what effect will it have for global players like Ford. Also factor in that most of the best component suppliers are based in the Eurozone and it becomes a very big headache overnight. As for the UK market, Mondeo man now drives a 3 series and Focus man is gradually converting to A3/1 series/ A Class/ Golf. The days of brand and national loyalty for Ford and Vauxhall are quickly disappearing. The Transit is their saviour and that relies on a lot of UK content.

289

21 January 2014
.... currently has the UK's 2 best selling cars in its range, the Fiesta and the Focus,
Hmmmmm, not when you take about 30% of pre-reg out it doesn't!
As usual just buying market share.

21 January 2014
It would really be very very stupid for Britain to leave the EU and one of the first of many things we'd lose would be our car industry. We need to ignore the idiots who hate Europe so much they'd destroy Britain in their haste to get away from it.

21 January 2014
"Surrender your sovereignty or we shall stop making hatchbacks" is a remarkably stupid thing to say. But Ford, Nissan, etc have form here. Not so long ago, they all made the same dire threats unless we joined the Euro. What sage advice that was.

21 January 2014
Ford moved their Transit production from Southampton to Turkey last year. The plant received EU loans to do this, which were part funded by the UK. What irony.

Since Turkey has a customs union with the EU, they will have no issue with exporting the vans to the block.

And Ford should think about the effects of leaving the UK would do to their sales. The UK is an important market for them. But, if they do, then Vauxhall would be happy with the increased business.

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