Jaguar Land Rover Seeks 'Fair' Support for Carmakers After Brexit

  • Luxury producer backs Nissan call for supply-chain investment
  • U.K. manufacture of parts such as gearboxes unlikely, CEO says

Jaguar Land Rover Can't Influence Politics, CEO Says

Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer Ralf Speth backed Nissan Motor Co.’s calls for extra funding for car-parts makers in the wake of last year’s Brexit vote, while cautioning that there must be “fair play” for all U.K. automakers.

The 100 million pounds ($123 million) that Nissan this week told Parliament should be spent on luring component suppliers to Britain would be “absolutely” welcome, Speth said Wednesday, adding: “The closer the supply chain, the more beneficial it would be.”

The sourcing of parts from the continent has emerged as a key concern for U.K. car producers following the June 23 vote to quit the European Union, especially since many components are re-exported and imported again several times during the manufacturing process. That means they could incur tariffs with each border crossing in the absence of a comprehensive trade deal.

At the same time, no automaker should enjoy unequal government support, according to the executive. His company produced about 544,000 cars in Britain last year, compared with 507,000 at Nissan’s U.K. operation, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders data shows.

“Fair play is something the U.K. is known for,” Speth said. “I’m quite sure that the government knows exactly what to do, and knows the value of Jaguar Land Rover -- that we are the one and only to design, manufacture and do everything in the U.K.”

Speth said that JLR has “repatriated” some component production to Britain to help smooth its supply chain as output increases, while adding that the volumes it’s likely to achieve are never going to be sufficient to persuade manufacturers of items such as specialist electronics and gearboxes to establish production in Britain.

The company is also concerned about the implications of a “hard” Brexit in areas including carbon controls and homologation measures, the CEO said. JLR, a unit of India’s Tata Motors Ltd., also employs about 1,000 non-British EU nationals in the U.K. and needs to maintain access to skilled labor, he said.

Speth, who spoke prior to the unveiling of Range Rover’s new Velar SUV, said that while he advocated Britain remaining in the EU prior to last year’s poll, he fully accepts the result.

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