German luxury automaker BMW last week hinted that it could move production of an iconic British car to the European continent in the event of the U.K.'s messy exit from the European Union.
AFP reports that chief executive Harald Krueger told the BMW's annual meeting that executives hoped for "pragmatism from all parties" during negotiations ahead of what's known as "Brexit" in 2019.
"That means no new barriers to trade. Free movement for skilled workers," Krueger told investors.
Krueger also noted that BMW makes some Mini vehicles at a plant in the Netherlands — and added ominously that the automaker was "planning in terms of scenarios" and "flexible."
BMW and other automakers are particularly worried about higher tariffs and other logistical challenges for vehicles and parts moving back and forth from the U.K. after the split.
Previous reports from German papers suggested that Brexit could prompt BMW to produce a new electric Mini in Germany or the Netherlands, but Krueger's remarks, AFP reported, seemed to indicate that its complete U.K. operations could be vulnerable.
He told investors that the company supports "the European community" and benefits from "Europe and the euro."
"We support the internal market," Krueger said. "That's our conviction."
Mini reportedly employs about 18,000 workers in the U.K. and supports another 46,000 indirectly. Most Minis are assembled at a plant in Oxford, and the company also operates an engine plant near Birmingham and a parts facility in Swindon.