SMMT warns of rising costs

British motorists could see their annual car service and repair costs rise by 10% to £777 after Brexit if no deal is reached between the UK and the EU.

A new report published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that the UK’s collective car repair bill could rise by more than £2bn if tariffs and other barriers to trade are imposed.

The Importance of the Aftermarket to the UK Economy 2017, commissioned from independent consultancy Frost & Sullivan, reveals that a 2.5-4.5% World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariff on imported car parts would cost the average car owner an extra £21 a year for replacement components. Meanwhile, quotas, subsidies, customs delays and regulatory barriers could add an additional £49, resulting in a £2.14 billion rise in the UK’s collective car maintenance bill.

Some 80% of replacement car parts fitted to British cars are imported, with almost three quarters of these coming from EU-based suppliers. However, the manufacture of components in the UK is growing, making the risk of tariffs on British products sold in Europe and other key global markets another major concern. The report concludes that WTO tariffs on automotive parts exported from the UK could cost the domestic industry up to £3 billion in lost revenue, with a potential impact on future investment and jobs.

The report highlights the risk to an industry, which makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. In 2016 the UK automotive aftermarket sector, which includes parts makers, distributors, retailers and workshops, grew its turnover by 2.4% to £21.6 billion, while raising its contribution to the economy by 2.5% to £12.5 billion and creating an additional 1,400 extra jobs. The total number of jobs supported by the sector now stands at some 347,000 – more than the population of Coventry.1

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, ‘This report shows just how vital the UK automotive aftermarket is to our economy and society, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and keeping vehicles safe – and the country moving. Government must now prioritise an interim arrangement that maintains single market and customs union membership until the right trade deal with the EU is implemented.’