Staying in the European Union is best for its business and best for British jobs, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders today, three days before the EU referendum.
The SMMT, which represents the UK automotive industry, said it wants to ensure there is “absolute clarity on the sector’s position given recent misrepresentations in the Europe debate”.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “UK automotive is globally competitive, securing record levels of investment, creating tens of thousands of jobs annually and exporting to over 100 countries.
“We want this success to continue rather than jeopardise it by increasing costs, making our trading relationships uncertain and creating new barriers to our single biggest and most important market, Europe. Remaining will allow the UK to retain the influence on which the unique and successful UK automotive sector depends.
“There should be no ambiguity about the sector’s views ahead of such a critical vote.”
The industry, he said, supports 800,000 jobs across the UK and contributes £15.5 billion annually to the economy.
The industry is export led with around 80% of vehicles heading abroad, with 58% going to the rest of the EU.
“Unrestricted access to the world’s largest single market, the negotiating strength of the EU to secure international trade deals, the ability to shape technical regulations and free movement of labour all provide significant benefits to UK businesses,” said Hawes.
A number of senior car brand managers have also added their voice in support of the ‘remain’ cause.
Ken Gregor, chief financial Officer of Jaguar Land Rover, said: "Remaining in the EU – our largest market – will increase Jaguar Land Rover's chances to grow, create jobs and attract investment in future technologies. Our European supply chain has been fundamental in helping us to meet customer expectations worldwide and achieve sustainable, profitable growth.”
Tony Walker, deputy managing director, Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, said: “After considered review, we believe that continued membership of the European Union is best for our business and for our competitiveness in the longer term.”
Dr Ian Robertson, member of the board of management at BMW AG, said: “We firmly believe Britain would be better off if it remained an active and influential member of the EU, shaping European regulations which will continue to impact the UK whatever the decision on Thursday.”
And Rory Harvey, managing director and chairman of Vauxhall, said: “We are part of a fully integrated European company where we benefit from the free movement of goods and people. We believe not to be part of the EU would be undesirable for our business and the sector as a whole.”
In January, before the start of the campaigning period, the SMMT commissioned a survey of its members – which includes car and commercial vehicle manufacturers, parts suppliers and aftermarket companies – for their views on whether remain or leave was the best option for the .
77% of the firms surveyed said remaining in Europe would be the best for their business, with 9% saying leaving would be best.