Brexit Could Unplug U.K. Automakers' Electric-Car Plans, Report Says

Economic uncertainty is delaying crucial investments.

Jaguar Land Rover

The Jaguar I-Pace may have just made a splash at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, but the future of electric cars from U.K. manufacturers is unclear. According to a recent CNN report, investments in electric-car development are being delayed due to uncertainty about how the U.K.'s departure from the European Union aka "Brexit" will affect trade relationships with other countries.

Automakers rely on complex supply chains that crisscross national borders, which could be disrupted if the U.K. puts up trade barriers with the European Union as part of Brexit. Companies already have U.K. factories manufacturing gasoline and diesel cars, but funding a shift to electric cars may not seem worthwhile if the cost of importing parts, as well as exporting finished cars, is deemed too high.

Jaguar has already selected a plant in Austria to build the I-Pace. BMW previously said it would build an electric Mini model alongside internal-combustion versions at the existing Mini plant in Oxford, England, but last month BMW said it would also build electric Minis in China.

Aston Martin began work on a new U.K. plant for its upcoming DBX SUV before the Brexit vote. CEO Andy Palmer, who is no stranger to electric cars thanks to his time at Nissan, has pushed Aston to go electric. But it's unclear how Brexit will affect those plans. Dyson, the British company known for its cordless vacuum cleaners, appears to be moving ahead with plans for a range of electric cars despite Brexit.

While analysts worry over the U.K.'s ability to become an electric-car powerhouse, the government seems confident that the country can become a leader with another emerging technology. U.K. officials are undertaking a review of regulations in order to pave the way for large-scale deployment of self-driving cars by 2021.