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Aston Martin triggers Brexit contingency plan

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Aston Martin has started implementing its contingency plans to prepare for a “disorderly” Brexit, according to Reuters.

The British-based automaker’s chief executive Andy Palmer said that it ordered components for its vehicles 12 weeks in advance, so has needed to act as Brexit is scheduled to occur on 29 March.

The plans include hiring a new supply chain chief and preparing to fly in components as well as use ports other than Dover.

“I don’t think we’ve been in a position in the last two years where we’ve been further apart from understanding where we’re going to end up,” Palmer said. “We programme a car to align and order all the parts for those cars twelve weeks in advance. You don’t need to do the maths to know that therefore takes us across the Brexit period. We have to prepare for the worst case scenario.”

With UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal expected to be thwarted in parliament next week, the chances that the country will crash out of the EU without a deal are looking higher than ever.

Reuters said Aston was signing deals with supplier DHL to allow for the use of ports other than Dover which is Britain’s busiest and most likely to be disrupted by any customs delays. It has also authorised its supply chain team to make air freight bookings.

Britain’s car industry employs over 850,000 people and is one of the country’s most significant manufacturing sectors.

The government has said it will prioritise the movement of key supplies such as medicines if the flow of goods is hit after Brexit, so it is unclear what would happen to other items.

“We don’t have any assurances,” said Palmer. “One assumes if you’re putting parts onto a standard chartered plane, no one’s going to kick you off.”

Aston Martin, which built more than 6,000 top-end models last year at its central English plant in Gaydon, its only factory, is also holding a stock of cars in Germany.

“It’s an inventory to some extent that we put in place during the course of 2018 ... and depending on what happens in the next few weeks, may or may not increase,” Palmer said. “Both the European and the UK politicians are not discharging the duty for which they are put in place which is basically to plan and bring certainty to allow the country to thrive.”

As carmakers prepare for multiple Brexit eventualities, they are also dealing with stricter emissions rules and a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy, China, which has hit a variety of firms, including Apple.

Aston Martin has previously committed to electrify all of its vehicles by 2025 alongside similar pledges from other automakers such as Jaguar and Volvo. 

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