LONDON -- Jaguar Land Rover said it will "realign its thinking" on investment after Britain's vote to leave the EU. If Nissan gets a Brexit compensation deal, then other automakers would need a level playing field, JLR, Britain's biggest carmaker, said.
CEO Ralf Speth said there had been signs that some customers in Europe, Jaguar Land Rover's biggest market, no longer wanted to buy British cars after the Brexit vote.
When asked about remarks by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn that Nissan would halt new investment in Britain without a pledge of compensation for tariffs imposed on UK-built cars in the event of a 'hard Brexit,' Speth said: "We are the only car manufacturer in the UK to do all the work in terms of research, design, engineering, production planning in the UK."
"We want to have fair treatment and a level playing field at the end of the day," Speth told Reuters by telephone from the Paris auto show.
Speth said the automaker, which built one third of Britain's 1.6 million cars last year, would face a double hit in the event of 'hard Brexit' with tariffs on exported cars and imported parts and technology from within the bloc hurting competitiveness.
He said the company's long-term strategy on investment had not changed but the firm would now have to think again after Britons backed leaving the EU on June 23.
However, Speth left open the possibility of new investment such as an electric battery and car plant in Britain if the conditions, including pilot testing and support from science, were right.
"The best thing would be to have something in the UK. If you are producing batteries there then you will also produce vehicles there," he said.
Britain's car industry body, the SMMT, said the current uncertainty over Brexit was not conductive to attracting investment. It said the UK government must maintain the competitiveness of the sector.
"The government must do all it can to maintain the competitiveness of the UK automotive sector, which has been hugely successful in boosting exports, creating jobs and generating economic growth in recent years," SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said on Friday.