The U.K.’s rapidly approaching plan to leave the European Union has many automakers worried, especially those whose primary manufacturing facilities are in the U.K. itself. This includes Bentley, which has produced most of its models in its home country since its sale to Volkswagen almost 20 years ago. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to invoke EU Article 50 by the end of the month, which will start two years of negotiations over the U.K.’s relationship to the European Union that will decide the tariff and customs environment, among other things.
But could Bentley actually leave the U.K. if the post-Brexit tariff and investment climates begin to look unfavorable?
Reuters reports the automaker currently considers a possible move a worst-case scenario, and it’s related to the investments that need to be made in regard to future Bentley models. The timing of these decisions will overlap with the UK’s negotiations with Brussels, and the uncertainty over the post-Brexit trade climate makes Bentley wary of committing to producing new models in the U.K. before the Brexit deal is finalized.
“I have about nine to 12 months where I can wait and see what’s going to happen, and then I need to make serious decisions,” Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer told Reuters at the Geneva motor show. “It’s all connected to future models.”
“This gives us a bit of breathing space, and also the government, but then I need to have clear commitments,” Duerheimer said.
Bentley produced the Continental GT and the Continental Flying Spur for parts of their model runs in Germany in a factory shared with the VW Phaeton, but its newest Bentayga SUV model is produced in Crewe.
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New Bentley models that have the automaker looking to Europe reportedly include cars positioned below the Continental GT, one of which was previewed in concept form in Geneva this week. Bentley is believed to be setting its sights on the likes of the Porsche 911 and the Jaguar F-Type with future models, which will reside in an unexplored weight category for the automaker.