LONDON -- The UK's car industry is a key part of the economy and the government is looking to ensure the best possible EU market access for all of the country's important sectors, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said.
May outlined plans on Tuesday to enact a "hard" Brexit, meaning the country would leave the EU's single market, which could make exporting from UK factories less lucrative.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders lobby group has warned quitting the single market abruptly and reverting to tariffs under World Trade Organization rules threatens the industry's viability.
Germany's automakers also have warned that uncertainty about future tariffs in the wake of a "hard" Brexit could deter investment in Britain over a number of years, hampering their largest export market.
Toyota and Nissan say they will continue to build cars in the UK but may take steps to increase their competitiveness if leaving the EU raises costs for their UK manufacturing operations. The automakers, along with Japanese rival Honda, have led a revival in UK car manufacturing and rely on EU membership to export cars to other countries in the bloc without tariffs.
Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, told the Financial Times earlier this week: "We have seen the direction of the prime minister of the UK, [so] we are now going to consider, together with the suppliers, how our company can survive."
Asked for a response to Uchiyamada's comments, May's spokesman said: "The automotive industry and the finance sector are key areas for us and we will be, as we go into the negotiating period, looking at how we can ensure the best possible access to the European market for our key sectors."