Ford’s European boss has warned that a no-deal Brexit would prompt the firm to review its future in the UK.
Steven Armstrong told the BBC that failure to reach a deal for Britain’s departure from the EU, which could lead to the imposition of World Trade Organization rules and tariffs, would be “pretty disastrous” for British industry.
Ford currently makes engines at its plants in Dagenham and Bridgend, and transmissions at Halewood. Those units are shipped to other plants to be installed in chassis.
Trading under a WTO arrangement, which would involve tariffs on parts shipped between Britain and the EU, would “put a significant amount of cost in our business", said Armstrong. He added: “It would certainly make us think long and hard about our future investment strategy [in the UK].”
Armstrong also cautioned against a proposed Brexit arrangement based on the EU’s deal with Canada, which would allow for tariff-free trade but still involve border checks. Armstrong said that “would upset the just-in-time delivery model used by the company in Europe”.
Ford is currently understood to be considering a major restructuring of its business due to falling profits, with analysts at Morgan Stanley suggesting the firm could cut 24,000 jobs in Europe. That report was dismissed by Ford as "pure speculation".
Armstrong is the latest in a number of senior car industry executives to speak out against a possible no-deal Brexit. Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth has previously said fears over Brexit had already cost jobs, while Toyota has warned of disruption at its Burnaston plant.