The part of the UK car industry less exposed to Brexit worth £18.3bn

Suban Abdulla
·3 min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: A 1959 Mercedes-Benz 300Sl Gullwing is displayed during the London Concours at Honourable Artillery Company on August 20, 2020 in London, England. The London Concours, presented by Montres Breguet, is a luxurious automotive garden party hosted right in the heart of the City of London and will see 80 of the world’s most precious cars. The event will be the UK’s first major automotive event to take place since February with procedures in place to comply with social distancing guidance.  (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
A 1959 Mercedes-Benz 300Sl Gullwing is displayed during the London Concours at Honourable Artillery Company on August 20, 2020 in London, England. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

The economic impact of the historic and classic motor vehicles industry has made Britain a world leader in the sector, a study shows.

An important part of Britain’s car sector, which employs 11,300 people and boasted a £18.3bn ($24.7bn) turnover in 2019 will be less affected by Brexit.

The gross value added from the sector was £8.7bn in the same year.

A research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) commissioned by HERO-ERA assessed the environmental and economic impact of the UK’s classic cars industry.

While Britain and the European Union are still negotiating to hash out a Brexit agreement, not much detail has been revealed about the issues facing the car sector, including driving in the EU.

CEBR chairman Doug McWilliams described the industry as being “much more Brexit proof” than so called “just in-time industries”, but conceded that loss of free movement had the potential to hurt business.

It will be necessary to find ways of bringing classic and historic vehicles to and from the UK without tariffs or other restrictions.

There have already been several concerns over border chaos ahead of the transition period on 31 December, with multiple bodies calling for a clear plan.

But, CEBR’s research found that despite cross-border difficulties a solution is possible but may require some work, particularly in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.

Unlike this part of the industry, the mainstream car sector will have major problems as a result of Brexit. Particularly, production which cannot hold back waiting for Brexit induced delays at ports or elsewhere.

“Although Brexit delays will add to problems, they are not mission critical in the same way as with the new build part of the motor industry,” CEBR said.

READ MORE: Brexit: Ministers warned UK businesses 'not prepared' for no-deal

Jobs are also a comparable measure and 113,000 jobs depend on the industry, 52,000 directly, 40,000 indirectly with suppliers and a further 20,000 induced by the further spending.

The classic cars sector has a high job-satisfaction rate, listing in the top 8% of satisfying jobs in the UK. It also pays well — a 70% pay premium — as a result of their high skill content.

Additionally, the industry employs many apprentices, with jobs in the industry helping the young who have gone off the rails. A separate study by HMP for the Home Office concluded that Car Academy, which provides motor based skills in prisons, reduced reoffending rates from 67% to 5%.

Environmentally, the classic cars sector is very green, when looking at the materials and energy content of spending on classic and historic vehicles.

The industry spends £4,500 of the £8,000 typically spent annually per vehicle on restoration, repairs and maintenance, and the philosophy of reuse and conserve.

These vehicles travel typically 1,200 miles a year only, with the annual carbon emissions in tonnes of CO2 equivalent is just over half a tonne. This is about half the emissions from a computer or a phone.

If you measure the emissions per £1,000 spent, which is the relevant consumer spending approach, the impact is about half that of spending the same amount in a good restaurant or a pub and a fiftieth of the impact of spending the same amount flying long haul.

Watch: What is a no-deal Brexit and what are the potential consequences?