Now that Brexit is a done deal and we are hopefully in the final phase of the pandemic, the motor industry is looking ahead to what may lie in store as lockdown restrictions ease and life gets back to normal.

There is no doubt that the combination of Covid-19 and years of Brexit-related uncertainty have taken their toll on the motor industry. However, the fact that car sales are always hit hard and early by any economic uncertainty means this resilient industry is used to bouncing back – and, despite the difficult times we are still living in, there are good reasons to be optimistic about better times ahead.

Certainty and a clear path forward

In the last weeks of 2020, a no deal Brexit that would have resulted in tariffs or quotas on UK exports increasingly looked like a distinct possibility, with the government going as far as to tell businesses to prepare for this scenario.

However, thankfully the last-gasp Brexit deal agreed on Christmas Eve brought some much-needed positive news for the motor industry as we learned that car exports between the UK and the EU will be tariff-free.

What’s the catch?

Car exports are tariff free as long as they are manufactured from up to 30% of components sourced from the UK or the EU. On the 1st of January 2024, this obligation will increase to 50%.

This is obviously good news for all UK and EU-based automotive manufacturers. However, with the ban on the sale of new diesel, petrol and hybrid cars being brought forward five years to 2035, many industry experts agree that the most pressing challenge for the UK is to make a concerted effort to manufacture many more car batteries, the majority of which are currently sourced from South East Asia.

A new opportunity

West Midlands mayor Andy Street certainly thinks this new legislation represents a great opportunity for the UK economy, saying, “Ensuring our own ability to build these car batteries at scale in this country is critical. That means ‘gigafactories’, like the one built by Tesla in Nevada. A gigafactory, and the supply chain that would gravitate around it, will make a huge contribution to meeting the need for British-built parts in our cars. It will be vital, not just for future jobs, but for keeping the ones we already have.”

Building for the future

Currently the UK only has one major battery manufacturer, the Envison plant in Sunderland, which makes batteries for Nissan and Renault EVs. Estimates by The Faraday Institution, a body which promotes electrochemical storage research, say that the UK will need eight battery plants by 2040 to fulfil increasing demand.

The expansion is already underway, with major investment going into the Britishvolt plant at the former Blyth Power station in Northumbria and several other projects in the pipeline.

Good news for the automotive industry

While the need to produce batteries has been identified as the most pressing concern as we move towards the 2024 and 2035 targets, the legal requirement for cars exported to the EU to be at least 50% EU or UK made, is great news for manufacturers who can sometimes be undercut by cheaper global competitors.

The news certainly means that the mid to long-term future for Interflex looks promising as we continue to manufacture NVH and sealing solutions for vehicles, including door seals, interior trim, under carpet and boot seals.

To find out more about the innovative products we can supply, please call us on 01949 861 494 or email