By on May 19, 2020


The UK auto industry pales in comparison to the nearby German juggernaut, though Britons looking to purchase a new vehicle in the coming years might discover their preferred Teutonic ride has suddenly jumped in price.

That’ll be the reality come 2021 if the UK can’t come up with a new trade deal with its newly distant European Union neighbors. Post-Brexit, the country has no other choice at the current time but to impose default World Trade Organization tariffs of 10 percent on all European-built vehicles.

As reported by Autocar, the UK’s Department for International Trade revealed Tuesday that, as of the beginning of next year, the country will have to impose tariffs on cross-Channel imports. Previously, the UK’s membership in the group of nations meant vehicles built in Germany, Italy, and France faced no import levy.

Unless the UK and EU strike a deal before the calendar runs out, that’s to be the reality for British car buyers. While some Euro automakers could take the hit, absorbing the cost and keeping retail prices stable, it’s unlikely any will. Perhaps some really high-zoot, low-volume niche models might dodge it at the dealership, but volume products? No way.

The tariff would be good news for British automakers cranking out vehicles in the UK — automakers such as Jaguar-Land Rover, but it wouldn’t do anything good for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche, and others. The latter marque has already warned of just such a potential price bump.

In exchange for the import tariffs on Euro automobiles, existing pre-Brexit tariffs will be removed on some $37 billion worth of EU goods.

[Image: BMW AG]

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18 Comments on “From Across the Channel Came Cars Bearing Tariffs...”

  • avatar

    England still ripe with hubris from the “British Empire” days are realizing that they are not the biggest or even most important player in Europe let alone the globe. What did they expect post Brexit?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The UK’s GDP is a close second to Germany, and was about 20% of the entire EU. Their GDP is about the same as the bottom 20 EU countries combined, or Italy and Spain combined.

      So they’re pretty important.

      Tariffs are protectionist, so I’d argue that this is the desired outcome.

    • 0 avatar

      Outside of the UK there is a mistaken belief that we yearn for the Empire – no one here in little old England (or any part of the UK) has thought of the British Empire since the end of WW2 – there is no hubris just a wish to decide our own future as an independent country, no more, no less. Tariffs on cars will harm the EU car industry infinitely more than the UK – they have a huge trade surplus with the UK and the UK has proposed no tariffs at all for the auto industry.

      • 0 avatar

        The EU has had a long standing 10% tariff against import cars, so how does it feel to be outside?

        It’s been bad for EU/UK consumers and lead to the crappiest cars the world has ever seen, most unfit for (meaningful) global consumption.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Well, isn’t that the idea?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Ireland to Northern Ireland low mile CPO vehicles? Like that isn’t gonna happen.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    We should offer some sort of NAFTA type deal to them. The US and Canada certainly have a special relationship there.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    @Art: I agree that ‘free’ trade agreements should be restricted to nations that share similar political systems, observe ‘the rule of law’, have comparable standards of living, safety and environmental regulations.

    Being political allies should also factor in.

    • 0 avatar

      ART & ARTHUR.

      Free Trade Agreements with similar countries. Makes perfect sense to me.

      But we gave it to evil china in the mid 90’s. A clear threat to world politcal and economic freedom and the rule of law.

      Shameful and disgusting.

  • avatar

    It is interesting to know what Brits think about it. May be they do not want any free trade or other special ties with USA. After WWII US (i.e. Roosevelt/Truman) did everything it could to end UK’s dominance at sea and in world in general and collapse British Empire to replace it with Pax Americana. Roosevelt and Truman did not share A-bomb secrets with UK even though UK was first to start working on bomb and shared results with US. But it is fair to say that British Empire would collapse with or without US and UK had been tired of wars and price of keeping empire and there comes NHS. It is one thing that super power like US is not capable to implement.

    • 0 avatar

      Most people I know here in the UK dislike tariffs, we are happy to buy products from anyone and anywhere, its the EU and the protectionist policies pushed hard by France and its supporters that forced tariffs on products the UK has opposed since day one.
      The UK also wants a free trade agreement with the US and indeed the world, but wish merely to ensure high standards are maintained.

  • avatar

    Boris the Bozo as the Guardian, newly woken up by his uselessness on Covid-19 response, dubs him, is a complete idiot and unfortunately for Brits, Prime Minister of that benighted nation. Business ins and outs are not his forte. Nothing much is. He claims to be an ancient Greek drama scholar and university debater, and filer of made-up EU nonsense stories for the Daily Telegraph when he was their jolly japer ex-public school (in reality upper class toff private schools misnamed to mislead unwary colonials) European correspondent. Whether that beats a streetwise real estate person swigging zinc solution and swallowing synthetic quinine pills to ward off evil corona spirits is a matter for debate. Who can be bothered though? It’s obvious they’re both incredibly incompetent at leading their respective nations. They lead in virus deaths and off load the blame for thir own lack of response on China. The press backs them up on something which is not yet proven, except in the minds of delusionals used to being spoonfed propaganda and believing it from their neoliberal corporate-loving media.

    The only sorta English car manufacturer of any note is Jaguar Land Rover (owned by Tata of India), in that they run a complete show from styling, design, engineering and assembly — from local and foreign sourced parts, many from the EU, and no doubt subject to import duty if Boris gets no trade deal by year’s end. Their vehicles are very expensive and not purchased by very many Brits who simply cannot afford them.

    Toyota has a UK asembly plant, as does Nissan turning out Rogue Sports, and MINI makes BMW designed retro crap. None of these people do vehicle design or engineering in Britain, although Nissan claims a small styling studio. And most parts are from the EU or China. Peugeot is shutting down the old GM Opel/Vauxhall plant in Port Ellesmere. Ford has only an engine plant it plans to close and assembles all vehicles in the EU. Honda is up and leaving completely next year anyway.

    One could analyze this and that, but it adds up to only one thing for Britain. Ruin. Unless Boris miraculously discovers his senses, and that at best is a 50/50 proposition. He’d rather debate than act and the plight of regular citizens is the last thing on his mind.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    They could bring back that three wheeled vehicle favored by Mr. Bean.
    Was that the Reliant Regal?

    There was another 4-wheeled vehicle, favored by Mr. Bean to perform his mischief and antics, but for the life of me I can’t remember the brand or model.

    • 0 avatar

      Rowan Atkinson aka Mr. Bean has a massive car collection. He ranks with Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld in the realm of celebrity car collectors.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Lou is correct. At one time I believe Atkinson owned the world’s largest private collection of Aston-Martins.

        He also raced extensively and appeared once on ‘classic’ Top Gear setting what at that time was the fastest lap in the reasonably priced car. Something of a relief for him, due to his reputation as a gear/petrol head.

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