Employee Engagement

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will not follow in Nissan’s footsteps in seeking special assurances from the Government if the UK leaves the EU’s single market, the chief executive has said.

Torsten Muller-Otvos told the Press Association that the luxury car manufacturer has not had any communication with the Government, despite high-level communications between Downing Street and car maker Nissan.

“We don’t have any agreements with the Government so far, and there is currently no intention to structure any deals with the Government, and we are also not threatening the Government that we would withdraw here from the country,” he said.

His comments follow an announcement from Nissan in October confirming it would be making two new car models in its Sunderland plant, securing 7,000 regional jobs, despite speculation it might quit the UK following the vote to leave the EU.

MPs are pushing the Government to reveal the details of a letter sent to the Japanese car maker in the wake of the Brexit vote, though ministers have strongly denied suggestions that Nissan was offered a “sweetheart deal” with financial incentives to persuade it to stay in Britain.

“It’s hard for me to comment on what kind of situation they had been in, because we have already invested quite major amounts into that whole operation,” Mr Muller-Otvos said.

“If I had been confronted today as a company with significant major investments into the UK, I of course would ask questions: Is it still all right to be here or should I invest somewhere else?”

Mr Muller-Otvos used the company’s trading update last Monday to renew the company’s commitment to Britain, as it cheered a 6% jump in car sales last year.

However, Rolls-Royce declined to comment when asked whether UK jobs would be at risk if Britain leave the EU’s single market.

Around 1,700 people are employed by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, which has its main manufacturing hub in Goodwood, West Sussex.

The chief executive made headlines after writing to workers in March, warning them that an exit from the European Union would drive up costs and prices and could affect the company’s “employment base”.

However, Mr Muller-Otvos said the company – which is owned by German auto giant BMW – does not have any contingency plans in place in the case of a hard Brexit, and has not instructed either internal staff or consultants to measure the financial consequences.

“If we’re doing maths and lots of calculations and whatever, this is for me a waste of time.”

The Brexit vote has raised questions as to whether foreign-owned companies will maintain manufacturing hubs in the UK if Britain leaves the single market, which is likely to result in trade tariffs for goods including luxury vehicles.

Around 90% of Rolls-Royce cars are exported from the UK.

But Mr Muller-Otvos said there were no plans to set up an EU subsidiary, an option being considered by the likes of insurance market Lloyd’s of London to secure access to the single market. “For us, it’s currently business as normal.

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