Bentley CEO, Adrian Hallmark, has asked for an extension to the Brexit transition period for the automotive sector in the situation the UK and the European Union fail to agree on a trade deal by year-end.

UK automakers such as Bentley are preparing for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit in the event the UK and EU can’t reach an agreement.

“The first priority would be to get a deal done before the deadline,” Hallmark told Automotive News Europe.

“The second priority, of course, will be to ensure that if there isn’t a full deal done across all sectors, that there are extensions to various agreements for sectors if that’s possible, or a total extension.”

Bentley has announced that it will cut 1,000 jobs to compensate for money lost following the shutdown of its factory in Crewe, England, and subsequent restart at half the factory’s capacity because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“If we get a hard Brexit on top of what we are going through, it would be highly damaging for our business and for the UK industry,” Hallmark said.

Frictionless borders

The UK’s automaker association, the SMMT, has pushed for the government to agree on a trade deal that keeps much of the benefits of EU membership, including zero tariffs, frictionless borders and the ability of companies to easily move staff between the UK and other European workplaces.

The UK left the trading bloc January 31 but currently keeps all the benefits of EU membership as part of the transition period that ends January 1, 2021. The UK’s ruling Conservative government has consistently said it will not ask for an extension to this transition period, increasing the risk no deal will be reached and that tariffs will be applied.

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Nissan has said that that tariffs on parts from the EU and finished vehicles exported into the UK will be damaging to its plant in Sunderland, northeast England.

“We want to continue. We are committed. Having said that, if we are not getting the current tariffs, it’s not our intention but the business will not be sustainable. That’s what everybody has to understand,” Nissan Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta told the BBC early in June.

The UK will apply a new Global Tariff of 10 per cent on imported cars starting in January 2021 when EU regulations no longer apply in Britain, the government has said.

This will apply to any country with which the UK has not struck a free-trade deal.

Bentley is currently building up a stockpile of parts to enable it to build cars for 10 days if a no-deal Brexit happens and trade is disrupted. Hallmark said building up the 10-day supply would take five months.

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