Will Suez Container Crisis Hit UK Car Sales?

Tue 30th Mar 2021

The week-long blockage of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given container ship could hit European imports for weeks and months to come, but some UK car dealers are confident that supplies of automobiles will not be significantly affected.

The giant ship was freed from its groundings this week, after almost a week stuck in the centre of the canal, creating a backlog of shipping which could take three days to clear, but which could be felt around the import and export markets for some time to come.

While there are worries that there could now be a glut of container ships arriving at European ports, two Japanese manufacturers have said that they will be largely unaffected. 

“Suzuki received sufficient stock to the UK at our Portbury facility prior to this event and is ready for when dealers re-open from April 12,” said a Suzuki spokesperson.

“Two further ships have already passed the affected area and we remain in contact with our shipping partner to check on any possible future delays to our Japanese manufactured models.”

Similarly, Mazda UK were not anticipating any supply delays, saying: “Mazda UK planned for a strong recovery following the COVID-19 Lockdown and our immediate stock coverage both at dealerships and in central compounds is very healthy.”

Japanese car fans could be expecting to see their favourite brands at discounted prices over the coming year, following the hew UK-Japan trade deal. Speaking to AM-Online, Mazda’s managing director Jeremy Thompson said that it could level the playing field.

“Tariff levels have been a critical factor that’s created a glass ceiling for Mazda in the UK over the decades”, Thompson said.

“It’s meant a 10% tariff on cars as well as a tariff on parts and that equates to tens of millions of pounds a year. We now don’t have the financial penalties, so its’ life in a level playing field.

“For 20 years at Mazda UK it’s been a factor in how we structure the business and that’s why we have a very retail balance to the mix.”