Senior automobile sector executives have voiced their support for the UK remaining in the European Union. In a succession of statements issued on Monday (20 June), Jaguar Land Rover, Mini Cooper manufacturer BMW, General Motors' UK subsidiary Vauxhall and Toyota UK executives said the industry benefited from the free movement of goods, services and people.
Ken Gregor, chief financial officer of Jaguar Land Rover, said: "Remaining in the EU — our largest market — will increase our chances to grow, create jobs and attract investment in future technologies."
Rory Harvey, 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."
Shigeru Teramoto, managing director of Toyota UK said it has never his company's intention to participate in the referendum campaign and the stance has not changed.
"But open and free access to the European Market is of critical importance for our UK manufacturing business. Nearly 90% of all our vehicles are exported and 75% of all our vehicle production is made for our customers in the EU."
Were the UK to leave the EU, Teramoto said it is "unlikely" the current 0% tariff structure for exports would be maintained. Separately, auto parts manufacturers GKN and Magal Engineering, also backed a vote to remain in the EU.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the industry's lobby group, said the UK auto manufacturing industry contributed £16bn ($23.5bn, €20.7bn) to UK economic growth, and employed 800,000 workers.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMMT, warned the industry's unambiguous voice in favour of remaining in the EU must be heard. "Brexit would lead to increasing costs, making our trading relationships uncertain and creating new barriers to our single biggest and most important market."
However, a spokesperson for Vote Leave dismissed calls by auto industry bosses.
The group's chief executive, Matthew Elliott said: "UK car exports are increasingly going to the rest of the world, not the EU. As such, a vote to leave could provide a boost to the industry as we would be free to sign free trade agreements with emerging markets − something we are currently forbidden from doing by the EU."
Elliott recalled how the auto industry bosses had urged the last Labour government to join the euro in 1999, before then Chancellor Gordon Brown turned down the idea. "They were wrong then and they are wrong now," Elliott concluded.