And yet it's so simple.
UK-based automakers such as Bentley are currently facing a dilemma. Without an agreed-upon trade deal between the UK and the European Union before the former's supposed departure from the block on December 31, 2020, the importation of must-have building supplies could become very expensive. Bentley's long-term future in the UK is in doubt because of this but it hasn't made any immediate plans to move its main operations elsewhere. But what it has done is make a plan for guaranteeing supplies in case of a disorderly exit. Reuters reports Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark addressed the issue at a conference this week and the company's near-term solution became apparent.
"We have spent two years planning. We have five Antonovs that we have on reserve to fly [car] bodies to Manchester," he said.
The Antonov 225 is a large Soviet-designed cargo plane capable of all sorts of interesting tasks. The fact that it's the heaviest aircraft ever built lends to its serious cargo-hauling capabilities. In addition to resolving how it'll transfer cars out of the UK, Bentley has increased its spare parts storage reserves.
"We used to run just-in-time with two days stock. Now we have 14 days stock. That's 14 working days, so that's three weeks of stock," he added. Bentley has rented additional warehouses and organized new logistics routes just in case its regular supply procedures are hit with bottlenecks. Bentley claims it can afford to absorb 10 percent import tariffs by raising prices and cutting some costs in case a Brexit trade deal isn't made.
Customers may not be happy about this but it's better than the alternative: a disruption of supply routes. "It is not existential as long as everything flows. Stopping flows is far more dangerous than Brexit tariffs," Hallmark said.
Fortunately, Bentley is in a strong financial position to weather the possible storm ahead. It's still on track to sell over 10,000 vehicles this year and will breakeven. Sales in the US and Europe are up by 15 percent while in China they're up by an impressive 35 percent compared to before when the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Bentley is slated to go under the direct control of Audi in order to adapt faster to new electrification technologies. Recently, the Bentley Flying Spur V8 entered production but that engine, along with the famed W12, will be replaced by new and more advanced all-electric powertrains by 2030.