The UK automotive industry has declared overwhelming support for remaining in the European Union when the UK votes to decide its future on 23 June.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders last week released research that found 77% of its members, and 88% of its large automotive business members, said remaining in the EU would be best for their business, while only 9% backed leaving. The remaining 14% were undecided.

“The message from UK automotive is clear: being in Europe is vital for the future of this industry and to secure jobs, investment and growth,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Our industry supports 800,000 jobs across the UK and contributes more than £15bn to the UK economy – our members have clearly stated that pulling out of Europe could jeopardise this.”

A host of car manufacturers made it clear at the Geneva motor show last week that they support Britain staying in the EU, with all saying their opinions were based purely on business grounds rather than politics.

Vauxhall, which as well as being considered a traditionally British brand has two manufacturing bases in the UK, said it is keen to remain within the EU. “Staying in the EU is the right thing to do in terms of freedom of movement of people and goods and it’s the right thing to do as an organisation,” said MD Rory Harvey.

Andy Barratt, Ford GB’s managing director, said: “We’re keen on staying in a reformed Europe. It gives stability to business. We have 14,500 employees in the UK and we want stability. This is not a political decision, it’s a business one.”

Mazda’s European president and CEO Jeff Guyton said the company didn’t have a view, but thought that if Britain left then both the Pound and Euro would be weaker “at least until there is a levelling off”.

He said that there was little point in Mazda doing any planning for an exit because there were “no parameters for leaving”, and added: “We won’t know what a Europe without Britain looks like until it happens. And if that happens, then we’ll react.”

However, Arnaud Leclerc, PSA’s deputy managing director in the UK, said it was not PSA’s business to get involved in politics, but he was “planning for both possibilities” so that the company was prepared.
When pushed, Leclerc added: “I would be very surprised if we supported ‘out’. I am very interested to see what will happen.

“It is very important where this goes – the UK is our third-largest market.”Leasing company Alphabet follows parent company BMW Group’s position. A company statement: “As a major employer, exporter and investor, the BMW Group is committed to the UK, which is home to two of our brands, Mini and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. We firmly believe Britain would be better off if it remained an active and influential member of the EU, shaping European regulations which will continue to impact the UK whatever the decision in June.”

Lex Autolease would only say that the Lloyds Banking Group, of which it is a part, “will consider any implications for our organisation, our shareholders and our customers. This is, though, ultimately a matter for the British people.”

When asked for a position on behalf of the leasing and rental industry, the BVRLA declined to comment.