The boss of Aston Martin Lagonda has attacked ministers’ Brexit strategy – and said a No Deal departure is better than more uncertainty.
Andy Palmer blasted the Government’s attempt at negotiations, and broke with other car bosses by calling for the country to leave the European Union in October even if no agreement has been reached.
Palmer is bored of Brexit and told a crowd of car industry insiders in London: ‘We think we know how we would cope with No Deal. We’ve planned for that. It’s not great, we’d prefer it wasn’t a No Deal.’
Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer broke with other car bosses by calling for the country to leave the European Union in October even if no deal has been reached
This stance is in stark contrast to other car firms with British operations, from Jaguar Land Rover to Nissan, insisting that No Deal would be disastrous.
The industry would be disproportionately disrupted by delays at borders or problems with customs, as it gets its parts delivered at the last minute in what is called a ‘just-in-time’ system.
Palmer slammed the Government for debating its negotiation strategy in public, which he said ‘is not very bright’, and said he was full of admiration for the way the EU has handled the negotiations.
He also poured scorn on hopes that driverless cars will be widely available in his lifetime, saying the expectation was ‘absurd’.
When asked if we will ever have autonomous cars that do not need humans on stand-by to operate, the 56-year-old said: ‘Not in the way that is described – at least, not in my lifetime.’
He explained this is because it would require huge amounts of internet infrastructure to enable cars to receive instructions from the world around them, especially outside big cities.
The likes of Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Google and even Uber have been testing self-driving vehicle technology, the holy grail for the transport market.
Palmer also said a version of driverless technology that is currently in trial stages at a number of companies is ‘reckless’.
This technology sees a car take over most driving but needs a passenger to intervene if the car requests it.
Aston Martin is working on an opulent electric vehicle – the Lagonda Vision Concept – which it hopes will incorporate lots of new driverless technologies
Palmer said: ‘When it can’t cope any more it hands back control to the driver. The problem is that the driver may well be distracted or asleep.’
At the same meeting, Aston Martin’s chief planning officer Nikki Rimmington said it and Lagonda are prepared for the possibility that shared, driverless vehicles could be popular in future in cities.
The luxury car maker is working on an opulent electric vehicle – the Lagonda Vision Concept – which it hopes will incorporate lots of new driverless technologies.
A former Nissan executive, Palmer became chief executive of the James Bond car maker in October 2014.
He took the company on to the London Stock Exchange last year in a disastrous public float.
Its shares have tanked since they listed at 1900p – and now stand at almost half that level, at around 967p.
Separately, Palmer launched a damning attack on the way the Government picks and chooses new technologies to back.
He said it ‘p****s him off’ when ministers pick a new technology to champion.
Palmer said: ‘I don’t know how a politician that probably went to journalism school would have the faintest idea what the technology is going to be in 20 or 30 years – because I’m an engineer and I don’t know.’
He also slammed the Government’s regularly touted goal of becoming a leader in battery technology, which is crucial to electric cars and renewable energy.
Palmer described this vision as ‘nonsensical’ when the Government has pledged to put much less money to fund research and development than other countries have.