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Brexit driving car manufacturers to consider route out of Britain

Car manufacturers appear to be hitting the accelerator out of Britain as the country moves toward an exit from the European Union.

More than 1,000 jobs are set to be lost at Ford's engine plant in Wales, German auto-maker BMW is reportedly considering the viability of its Mini plant in Oxford while Nissan wants the U.K. government to guarantee suppliers for its plant in North East England.

An employee walks past a Ford logo in a Ford factory.
Carl Court | Getty Images
An employee walks past a Ford logo in a Ford factory.


Arndt Ellinghorst, Head of Global Automotive Research at Evercore ISI, said in an email to CNBC Wednesday that no one should be surprised by exit planning.

"Auto companies operate in a fully globally connected value chain. They take investment decisions for the coming decade.

"Anyone assuming that these companies wouldn't be very alerted by Brexit, reconsidering future investments, is in complete denial of reality," he said.

ITV news reports that Ford is to reduce headcount from its current level of 1,760 to around 600 by 2021.

And although not confirmed by Ford, the company released a statement to the press saying it had shared its 5-year vision with unions.

"This shows healthy volumes to occupy the current workforce over the next two to three years," said the statement.

"Beyond that, identified workload is reduced and whilst such a forecast is not unusual, given the cyclical nature of our business, it is a concern, and we fully understand that."

Welsh politicians said Wednesday they're "seeking an urgent, high level meeting with senior Ford executives" to secure the future of the Bridgend plant.

Robotic arms work on the bodyshells of Mini cars as they pass along a section of automated production line at the BMW Mini car production plant in Oxford, west of London.
Geoff Caddick | AFP | Getty Images
Robotic arms work on the bodyshells of Mini cars as they pass along a section of automated production line at the BMW Mini car production plant in Oxford, west of London.

According to German media, BMW is considering whether to produce its electric version of the Mini in Germany. A decision is expected in 2017.

The Oxford Mail has reported that such a move would jeopardize 4,000 jobs at the plant near the U.K. city should BMW move production of all new Mini's to an electric version.

The Nissan car plant in Sunderland, north east England on October 25, 2016.
Scott Heppell | AFP | Getty Images
The Nissan car plant in Sunderland, north east England on October 25, 2016.

In the case of Nissan Senior Vice President Colin Lawther told U.K. lawmakers that tariffs on exports of the automaker's U.K. built SUV would cost the company as much as £600 million ($738 billion).

"You're talking a 400, 500, 600 million impact," he said.

Mr Lawther told MP's on the International Trade committee that the U.K. government needed to make assurances on securing parts from overseas.

"Nissan will not succeed in the future, with or without Brexit, unless the government does something to help us in the supply chain."

The head of European manufacturing at Nissan was asked if the future of Nissan's Sunderland facility is safe, to which he replied: "No, I wouldn't say that."