► 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).
‘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