General Motors Might Stage Its Own Brexit, Says Report
Britain’s recent vote to leave the European Union could cause General Motors to up and leave the country, industry analysts predict.
Production of Vauxhall and Opel vehicles could shift across the Channel if the EU places import tariffs on vehicles bound from Britain, LMC Automotive said in a report, ending GM’s decades-long presence.
The report judged GM the likeliest of all automakers to leave the UK in the event of a Brexit. Currently, the automaker builds Vauxhall and Opel vehicles at two British assembly plants — Ellesmere Port and Luton, England. If GM pulls up stakes, some assembly would likely be moved to Germany or Poland, the report said.
The Luton plant, which builds commercial Vauxhall vehicles, was recently upgraded and is expected to stay open until 2025. However, the Ellesmere Port plant, which builds Opel and Vauxhall Astras, could be living on borrowed time. LMC said there is a “high” risk of the plant moving to mainland Europe once the next-generation models arrive, possibly by 2021.
Garel Rhys, a professor at the Cardiff Business School, told Automotive News that Ellesmere Port’s problems go beyond vehicle tariffs. The 52-year-old plant relies mostly on imported parts, with locally sourced parts making up only about one-quarter of its inventory.
“It has a low anchorage, so in that sense, it’s the most vulnerable,” Rhys said.
The UK and EU haven’t forged an agreement on what cross-Channel trade will look like, so for now, automakers are playing wait and see.
[Source: Automotive News] [Image: General Motors]
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