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Brexit: U.S. automakers react to the British vote to exit from the European Union

Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler are not immune to the Brexit effect.

David Cameron Resigns After EU Referendum Result Dan Kitwood / Getty

If you haven’t already heard: The U.K. has voted to leave the European Union, David Cameron has resigned, the value of the pound has dropped to its lowest level since 1985 and the U.S. markets — the S&P 500 and Dow in particular — posted their biggest intraday losses in more than five months.

Unsurprisingly, U.S. automakers aren’t immune to the post-Brexit effect. Ford was down 6 percent, General Motors down 4 percent and Fiat Chrysler has seen close to a 12 percent drop today.

That’s because, for one, the U.K. is big enough that if it suffers a recession as a result of the split, Europe as a whole will face repercussions which will in turn have an effect on trade with the U.S., China and Japan. In other words, the global economy will suffer. But a split from the EU also could mean that the U.K. has to rethink many of its trade and production standards.

Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler have factories or corporate operations in the U.K. and will likely have to renegotiate many of the production standards — safety and otherwise — in the shift from EU common law to U.K. independent regulations.

But there is still a lot of uncertainty about what that will entail since it largely depends on what kind of deal the U.K. negotiates with the EU.

Naturally, the big three automakers are keen on the U.K. continuing to work with the EU on creating a level playing field, while also being freaked out, like everyone else. But they’re all putting a brave face on the news for the moment.

Here’s how automakers are responding so far:

Ford's priority has always been the need to maintain a stable trading environment so that we can continue building a strong and sustainably profitable business in the U.K. and Europe, and provide a more secure future for our nearly 14,000 direct employees in the U.K. We will continue working toward this goal with key stakeholders in the U.K. and across the other Member States and EU institutions to ensure they understand our concerns, which mirror those of the majority of the U.K. and European auto industry.

— Ford spokesperson

It is important for GM’s local operations that negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU are concluded in a timely manner. It is also important that business continues to benefit from the free movement of goods and people during this period. Communication on the development of the future relationship with the EU should also be clear and transparent. We fully support remaining part of the European Economic Area.

— GM spokesperson

The U.K.’s exit from the European Union is not expected to have significant impact on FCA, either in industrial or other terms, although the result of the referendum raises questions about the future of Europe. Particularly the fact that FCA NV is tax resident in the U.K. is not expected to have financial consequences or require changes in the Group’s governance, given the worldwide global distribution of FCA’s operating activities and locations.

— FCA Italy spokesperson

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