Europe and International Trade

SMMT Voices on Europe

SMMT voices on Europe

SMMT represents the entire automotive sector in the UK, providing businesses and our members with a forum to voice their views on issues affecting the sector.

In a 2014 survey of our members, 92% said that the UK’s continued membership of a reformed EU would be best for their business, with 75% believing that a withdrawal could have a negative impact.

Here are the views of a selection of SMMT members based across the UK, from Glasgow to London, on why Europe matters to them.

Penny Hydraulics

Penny Hydraulics Logo
FAMILY-OWNED Penny Hydraulics was established in 1978 as a mining and garage equipment specialist, before diversifying into cranes, lifts and commercial vehicle loading devices. Today the company, which last year boosted its annual turnover by 10% to a record £6.1 million, designs and manufactures in the UK and supplies to 22 countries worldwide.

  • Based In: Chesterfield, Derbyshire
  • Employees: 78
  • Annual Turnover: £6.1 million
  • Sells To: 22 countries worldwide, including France, Hungary, The Netherlands, US and Australia
  • EU Benefits: Single market growth opportunities, Harmonised safety standards

Our Comment

There is no doubt the single market has fuelled Penny Hydraulics’ growth. It has helped remove existing barriers to trade within the EU and promotes a business and consumer-friendly environment through transparent rules, which helps give us legal certainty and clarity
Richard Short: Sales Director


Why Europe Matters

Europe already delivers 10% of Penny Hydraulics’ annual turnover and is integral to its strategic growth plans. The 500 million-population single market provides easier access to a wide range of suppliers and buyers, driving lower unit costs and greater commercial opportunities, including those that foster competitiveness and innovation through harmonised safety standards between EU countries.

Single market benefits apply not just to exports, but imports, too – something which has been critical to Penny Hydraulics. It was recently able to expand its offering in the UK with a new 470-strong range of fully hydraulic Penny Hydraulics cranes imported from Italy without costly tariffs to meet the needs of the 1- to 18-tonne UK commercial vehicle market – a key part of the company’s growth plans.


Nicfo Logo
NIFCO’s specialist automotive plastics components range includes everything from plastic fasteners to dampers and grab handles. Established in 1967, the company now has more than 35 production plants and four R&D Centres based in 17 countries worldwide. Its UK R&D facility, based in Stockton-on-Tees, has a dedicated in-house team of technical specialists, design and development engineers.

  • Based In: Stockton-on-Tees, North East England
  • Employees: 560
  • Annual Turnover: £55.4 million
  • Sells To: All major automotive manufacturers
  • EU Benefits: Duty-free imports, Global competitveness of local OEM clients

Our Comment

Our UK business is reliant upon efficient and unimpaired access to the single EU market, for both imports and exports. The uncertainty around the UK’s membership of the EU will have a direct impact on our plans for sales growth and business expansion
Mike Matthews: Managing Director


Why Europe Matters

Nifco supplies products to all major automotive manufacturers and is part of the integrated EU supply chain, importing parts that are free from tariffs and duties from the single market to use in its components. Nifco UK’s local OEM customers place a large degree of importance on exporting into the EU single market and therefore retaining this ability through EU membership is critical to Nifco UK.

Nifco is continuing to focus on the strategic growth of the business, however, uncertainty around the UK’s continued membership of the European Union will have an impact on decisions surrounding further investment. Any additional costs, for example, from the imposition of import duties if the referendum were to result in a Brexit, would significantly hamper the competitiveness of the UK marketplace.

Magal Engineering

Magal Logo
MAGAL ENGINEERING has manufacturing facilities in the UK, France, Turkey, India, USA and China. It is recognised as a Tier 1 global strategic supplier to the major vehicle manufacturers, and has preferred supplier status with Daimler, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Renault Nissan, and PSA.

  • Based In: Reading and Worcester
  • Employees: 470 UK and 1030 worldwide
  • Annual Turnover: £100 million
  • Sells To: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, China, India, Brazil, USA, Mexico, Turkey, Russia, South Africa, Korea
  • EU Benefits: Tariff-free trading within single market. Ability to recruit foreign talent to fill UK shortfalls

Our Comment

Staying in the single market is critical to Magal Engineering’s growth ambitions. There are things in Europe which need reform, however, if the only choice is to take the EU as it is or to leave, we will choose to stay in the European Union
Gamil Magal: Group Chief Executive


Why Europe Matters

Inter-company trading is key to Magal’s product development, allowing it to import parts from EU sister sites to finish in the UK. The single market is essential to this and means imports are free from extra regulatory costs and tariffs. Magal exports 45% of its UK products, with 80% of the remainder also eventually being exported in UK-built vehicles. Europe is the predominant destination, again underlining the importance of free and full access to the single market.

Free movement of labour is another crucial factor on which Magal Engineering’s success depends. The current engineering skills shortfall in the UK requires the company to take on specialist engineers and technicians from across the continent. The ability to do this easily and to fill skills gaps quickly when required is of major benefit to Magal Engineering’s global competitiveness.

Horiba MIRA

Ahoriba Mira Logo
HORIBA MIRA Ltd is a world leader in advanced engineering, research and product testing. Over 70 years, it has grown into an international organisation with facilities located around the world. Its work spans the Automotive, Aerospace, Rail and Defence industries, and includes development of ground-breaking low carbon and autonomous vehicle technologies.

  • Based In: Nuneaton and Basildon, UK; Shanghai, China; Pune, India; Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Employees: 500+
  • Annual Turnover: £46 million
  • Sells To: 20% of revenue comes from overseas and 10% from the EU
  • EU Benefits: Access to single market attracts international investment, Ease of movement for skilled staff.

Our Comment

As one of the largest export markets for British-built cars, the EU single market is vital to thousands of businesses in the automotive supply chain – regardless of whether or not we export directly. Links to the EU automotive sector and a successful UK car industry mean we have been able to attract global organisations to locate their European R&D operations at MIRA Technology Park in the Midlands
Dr George Gillespie OBE: CEO


Why Europe Matters

Having access to European markets is one of the biggest benefits of HORIBA MIRA’s UK locations, with 10% of its £46 million of annual revenue coming from the continent. MIRA Technology Park in Nuneaton relies on being linked openly and freely into EU markets to attract international organisations looking to set up European transportation research and development facilities.

HORIBA MIRA plans to significantly grow its core engineering and testing business, including a greater presence on the continent. Ready access to EU markets and ease of movement for staff will be key to the success of this initiative. By 2020, MIRA Technology Park will double in size, adding 2000+ jobs and 25+ international clients. Most will have ambitions to establish or expand their EU footprint. Open access to EU markets is therefore a critical location consideration.

Gas Rec

Gasrec Logo
GASREC was formed in 2003 and is now Europe’s leading supplier of liquefied gas fuel to the road transport sector. The company fuels more than 60% of gas powered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) on UK roads, helping operators to cut fuel costs and significantly reduce pollution.

  • Based In: HQ in London plus 10 sites across the UK, including Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal, Europe’s largest LNG filling station
  • Employees: 30
  • Annual Turnover: Not disclosed
  • Sells To: Clients across haulage, FMCG and manufacturing, including: Arla, B&Q, John Lewis, Nisa, Stobart Group, Tesco, UPS, Sainsbury’s
  • EU Benefits: Access to European funding

Our Comment

European funding has been vital to Gasrec’s recent growth and development in the UK. £4.9 million of TEN-T funding has provided us with a platform to expand our business and further develop our European leadership in the supply of liquefied gas fuel.
Rob Wood Chief Executive


Why Europe Matters

In 2013, Gasrec secured £4.9 million of European funding from the TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Network) Executive Agency to help it to develop a pilot network of five new BIO-LNG (liquefied natural gas) filling stations across the UK motorway network, and to provide a pilot study on the development of similar sites and networks across mainland Europe.

This project will help the UK’s HGV haulage fleet cut fuel pollution and costs. It will also assist government in meeting its long-term CO2 reduction targets and improve air quality. The Gasrec results will be directly linked to the EU LNG Blue Corridors project, which aims to increase knowledge and awareness of LNG as an alternative fuel for road transport across the EU.

Allied vehicles

Allied Vehicles Logo
ESTABLISHED in 1993, the Allied Vehicles Group is now the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of adapted and special purpose vehicles, with approximately 42% market share for wheelchair accessible vehicles in the UK.

  • Based in: Glasgow, Scotland
  • Employees: 560
  • Annual Turnover: £109 million
  • Sells To: Private individuals, care homes, healthcare providers, local authorities, community transport groups, and via the UK Motability Scheme
  • EU Benefits: Access to 500m single market, influence over technical regulations

Our Comment

Working with UK government, we helped influence European Union legislation on the type approval of Special Purpose Vehicles, which, if left unchecked, would have posed a serious threat to our business
Paul Nelson: Managing Director

Paul Nelson

Why Europe Matters

Thanks to the Motability scheme, the UK is the biggest EU market for wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and represents 98% of Allied’s production, with just 2% destined for the continent. However, the domestic market is reaching saturation and the EU is a prime location for new business. To pursue growth, Allied has taken on an export sales manager. It regards the UK’s EU membership as providing critical access to the single market.

Until recently, there was no EU-wide harmonisation of regulatory standards for wheelchair tie-downs, occupant restraints and their anchorages. This led to differing rules being applied from one Member State to the next, making exporting difficult. Allied worked with stakeholders within the UK and Brussels to propose a set of uniform requirements that have now been adopted, levelling the playing field and helping secure future exports.

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