BMW said that it will have to shut down its UK factories if Brexit disrupts its ability to import components quickly and reliably from mainland Europe.
“We always said we can do our best and prepare everything, but if at the end of the day the supply chain will have a stop at the border, then we cannot produce our products in the UK,” BMW customs manager Stephan Freismuth said to Financial Times.
This is BMW’s starkest statement yet over the future of its UK operations, which include four manufacturing facilities: the Mini factory in Oxford, the Rolls Royce factory in Goodwood, an engine plant in Hams Hall and a metal pressing facility in Swindon. BMW’s UK facilities employ more than 7,000 people.
BMW’s warning shot comes just days after Airbus said it would be forced to leave UK if Brexit will render its operations noncompetitive.
More than 80 percent of Minis and 90 percent of Rolls Royce cars are exported, while the Hams Hall engine factory sends engines to BMW factories in Germany. Around 90 percent of the parts used by BMW’s British plants are imported from mainland Europe, with the German company having already warned about the repercussions of a hard Brexit.
Car factories are using ‘just in time’ manufacturing methods, meaning having parts arriving on the site only hours before needed on assembly lines, in order to minimize stockpiling components and to keep costs down.
Freismuth added that BMW was striving to find ways around the issues posed by the country’s exit from the European Union. “We don’t want to give up our UK plants”, he said.