Robin Easton, who took over from Ray Ashworth as managing director of DAF Trucks last March, has said that although he personally thinks Brexit will not be in the best interests of the UK, it will leave DAF in a better position than other manufacturers in the UK market, thanks to its British assembly facility in Leyland.
He hoped for a transitional period of at least two years after the UK leaves the EU.
In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, manufacturers bringing completed vehicles into the UK would be faced with a 20 per cent import tariff.
DAF would pay just 4.5 per cent on the value of the components that it imported for assembly at Leyland, giving it a considerable price advantage. He pointed out that the Leyland truck plant was the only factory in Europe to build the complete range of vehicles from 7.5 to 44 tonnes.
DAF had enjoyed 23 years as UK market leader, and currently had a market share of around 30 per cent. Its dealers were investing heavily in new premises and the training of apprentices.
Mr Easton pointed to DAF’s investment in a new cab plant in Westerloo, Belgium, which was capable of handling 300 cabs a day. This was 50 per cent over the capacity of the current facility and was intended to accommodate rising demand for DAF products from all over the world. In the UK, DAF was building a new corporate headquarters.
Looking to the future, Mr Easton said that full-electric and range-extended vehicles represented the future. DAF’s parent company, Paccar, had opened a new research and development facility in California’s Silicon Valley, reflecting the increasing interest in connected vehicles and driver assistance.
Closer to home, DAF was the sole manufacturer participating in the UK government’s platooning trials. Mr Easton said DAF was honoured to be at the forefront of these developments, but reminded his audience of transport journalists that, “autonomous does not necessarily mean driverless trucks.”