Vauxhall warns of dire consequences in event of no-deal Brexit

Published: 19 September 2019

 Brexit uncertainty ahead
 Vauxhall chief sounds warning
 British ad campaign ramps up 

The boss of Vauxhall has delivered a stark warning that the ‘overheated’ British car market could suffer a major collapse in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Managing director Stephen Norman told CAR he feared a 20-25% drop in new car sales if a so-called hard Brexit happened and tariffs were imposed on imported vehicles.

‘September 2019 is the last normal month for the UK market,’ he said. ‘If we get a hard Brexit, we will be entering uncertain territory. I do not know what the fourth quarter will look like - I’m trying to get my full year by the end of September. In the event of a hard Brexit [with no deal negotiated by the British government in its divorce from the European Union] the new car market could fall by between 20% and 25%. It could be higher - nobody knows.’

Vauxhall is currently doing ok, mopping up 7.7% of the UK new-car market in the first nine months of the year, up from 7.5% at the same point in 2018. But Norman warned that the market is artificially stimulated and due a correction anyway. ‘This year the market is difficult - it’s not just over-heated, it’s scalding.’ Tales of pre-registrations and enormous incentives/discounting are rife and even the premium players are artificially stimulating their sales figures, he warned.

Brexit uncertainty: an opportunity for Vauxhall

If every cloud has a silver lining, then Vauxhall is well placed to capitalise on Brexit chaos, Norman claimed. The brand has been marketing itself as a great British brand since 1903 and the MD revealed this rhetoric could be ramped up to capitalise on a more nationalistic fervour as Britain appears destined to go it alone.

The Vivaro van (below) is already marketed with a distinctly local branding (see below).

The Vivaro van is also made in the UK; Vauxhall is turning up the nationalistic association with the brand

‘We have come up with something even more jingoistic for our advertising,’ Norman said, suggesting that a new marketing campaign was ready to be rolled out to really push the Britishness of Vauxhall. ‘It will take you back to old-fashioned nursery rhymes from your childhood,’ he revealed, mysteriously. 

Watch this space. The car industry - and country as a whole - appears to be in for a rollercoaster winter.

The car industry and Brexit: an explainer

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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