The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called for an ambitious Brexit deal that it says can 'safeguard jobs and Britain's green future'.

The UK's automotive trade association urged all political parties (they are currently campaigning ahead of a General Election to be held on December 12) to put UK Automotive at the heart of their economic and trade policies. Setting out the industry's priorities for a new government, the trade body called for an 'ambitious, world-beating Brexit trade deal to maintain the sector's competitiveness and ability to deliver innovation, productivity and prosperity for Britain'.

Speaking at the 103rd SMMT Annual Dinner in London, SMMT President George Gillespie outlined the industry's vision for a better, safer and cleaner future. He said: "The automotive sector is going through a period of unprecedented change and we must not let the pressure of Brexit deflect from our focus on a coherent national industrial strategy. Collaboration between industry and government must be stronger than ever... We want to work closely with the next government, as we have in the past; united in a common purpose to keep UK Automotive a global player that drives employment, creates wealth and gives all of us pride in what we can do here."

He spoke as SMMT revealed new figures showing the 'devastating impact of Brexit without an ambitious trade deal' and the potential impact of tariffs. Independent research commissioned by the trade body shows WTO tariffs on imported components and exported vehicles would add more than GBP3.2 billion a year to UK automotive manufacturing costs.

The SMMT maintains that such a colossal increase – equivalent to almost 90% of the sector's annual spend on R&D – could not be absorbed, forcing prices to rise and global demand to shrink.

The analysis also estimates the impact of such tariffs could result in the cumulative loss of more than 1.5 million units from UK production volumes over the next five years, worth some GBP42.7 billion at factory gate prices.

Under this scenario, the study says, by 2024, falling demand and model reallocations to other locations would see UK annual output falling to just 1 million vehicles per year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "UK Automotive's needs are clear: frictionless trade free of tariffs, with regulatory alignment and continued access to talent. Detailed trade negotiations have yet to begin. They will be complex and they will take time. But a close trading relationship is essential to unlock investment so we can deliver our goals: cleaner air, zero carbon emissions, and the ability to go on building our products and marketing them globally.

"Rather than producing two million cars a year by 2020, a no trade deal, WTO tariff worst case scenario could see us making just a million. The next government must deliver the ambition, the competitive business environment and the commitment needed to keep automotive in Britain."

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