LONDON (Reuters) - Luxury carmaker Aston Martin is applying to have a new model licensed by a regulator in the European Union rather than Britain due to uncertainty over vehicle rules after Brexit.
Firms are seeking to protect themselves from any risk relating to Britain’s planned EU exit next year and the quintessentially British brand, famed for being James Bond’s car of choice, wants an EU body to approve its new Vantage model.
Britain’s Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) can for now sign off on models to be used in the whole of the EU, like national equivalents across the 28-member bloc, and is where previous Aston Martin models have been certified.
But earlier this month, the European Commission said that the VCA will cease to have that authority after Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019.
Aston Martin is therefore seeing approval from a different agency for the Vantage, which is priced from just over 120,000 pounds ($167,000) in Britain and due to roll off the production line at its Gaydon plant in April.
“If it remains as it is and it’s not negotiated that the VCA can approve, then everybody that’s currently using the VCA has to get approval elsewhere and we’ve already started doing that,” Aston Martin Chief Executive Andy Palmer told Reuters on Monday.
London and Brussels hope to agree a transitional deal at a summit next month which will maintain free and unfettered trade until the end of 2020 but it is unclear whether any agreement will include the mutual recognition of regulators.
“Because of lack of clarity...we have to take the safest scenario and consequently we’re homologating outside of the UK,” he said in reference to the process for approving new cars.
The government has promised to align its regulations with EU ones in some areas, such as the automotive sector.
Asked whether Aston Martin will have to seek a British vehicle licence for its new model alongside its EU one, Palmer said it was one of many areas that needed to be clarified.
“That is a very good question but probably the answer is yes. And regrettably I have to answer you with ‘probablys’ because nobody really knows,” he said.
Obtaining approval in Britain and the EU would lead to extra costs, he added.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Alexander Smith