LONDON– Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) shut its UK plants on Monday for five days over Brexit, adding to other shutdowns to leave at least half the country’s car production off-line in what could be a pivotal week for Britain’s divorce from the EU.

The move was intended to prepare for any Brexit-related disruption at Britain’s biggest carmaker, which on Monday also reported a fall in global sales. The decision was taken a few months ago at a time when the departure date – since extended to April 12 – was March 29.

Automotive firms face several possible risks under a disorderly Brexit, including delays to the supply of parts and finished models, new customs bureaucracy, the need to recertify cars and an up to 10 percent tariff on finished vehicles.

Remember Her? Take a Deep Breathe Before You See What She Looks Like Now
Remember Her? Take a Deep Breathe Before You See What She Looks Like Now

Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to obtain a longer extension have also ruined contingency plans for some of them.

Shutdowns are generally organized far in advance so staff holidays can be scheduled and suppliers adjust volumes, making them hard to move.

With Britain’s political leaders still deadlocked over Brexit and some EU states questioning a further departure delay, culture minister Jeremy Wright said May would continue talks with the opposition Labour Party to try to find a compromise solution.

BMW’s UK Mini and Rolls-Royce plants are also shuttered this week, as is Peugeot’s Vauxhall car factory, which brought forward summer shutdowns to April.

Together JLR, Mini, Rolls-Royce and Peugeot’s Vauxhall, branded as Opel in the rest of Europe, built over 750,000 of Britain’s 1.52 million cars last year.


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