Friday 28 October 2016

Nissan denies any UK ‘sweetheart deals’

NISSAN Motor Company has denied the presence of any ‘sweetheart’ deals associated with its latest plan to expand production and create fresh jobs in the UK.
Colin Lawther, Nissan’s European senior vice-president for manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain, denied that expansion of the Wearside plant was due to a Government “sweetheart deal”, after officials previously warned Brexit dawdling could have affected its Wearside base.
However, UK government is coming under increased pressure to reveal, what if any, deal was struck between the Government and Nissan to convince the Japanese company to not only remain in the UK bur expand production.
The car maker will produce the next generation Qashqai and X-Trail at its Sunderland plant.
Lawther described the deals as a massive “pat on the back” for its 30-year-old plant in Sunderland.
Nissan had hinted future production of its flagship Qashqai model, which is already made in Sunderland, could hinge on a UK government compensation package for any export tariffs and financial hardship caused by the EU change.
However, after discussions with Prime Minister Theresa May, who has hailed the company’s commitment as “fantastic news for the UK”, Nissan said it would put fresh investment into its near 7,000-strong job North-East base. 
Lawther declared the Brexit threat as “massive”, but added ministerial assurances, allied to Sunderland’s reputation with its Japanese hierarchy, had eased concerns.
He said: “Getting the Qashqai and X-Trail safeguards jobs and provides opportunity to expand employment in the region.”
The Wearside plant had already been chosen to make Qashqais with an auto-pilot system, a next generation battery for the Sunderland-made all-electric Leaf hatchback and an upgraded Juke model.
Carlos Ghosn, Nissan chief executive, said: "I am pleased to announce that Nissan will continue to invest in Sunderland.”
"Our employees there continue to make the plant a globally competitive powerhouse, producing high-quality, high-value products every day," he added.
Keeping Nissan in the UK was regarded as vital to Teresa May's hopes of a successful Brexit.
Ghosn added: “The support and assurances of the UK Government enabled us to decide that the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail will be produced at Sunderland.
"I welcome British Prime Minister Theresa May's commitment to the automotive industry in Britain and to the development of an overall industrial strategy."
Mrs May has said: "This is fantastic news for the UK. Nissan is at the heart of this country's strong automotive industry and so I welcome their decision to produce the Qashqai and a new model at their Sunderland plant.”
"It is a recognition that the Government is committed to creating and supporting the right conditions for the automotive industry so it continues to grow - now and in the future,” she added.
"This vote of confidence shows Britain is open for business and that we remain an outward-looking, world-leading nation. The Government will continue to work closely with employers and investors in creating a global Britain, a country where there are new opportunities for jobs and rewarding careers. Families across the North East will be delighted at this news today and I share in their enthusiasm for what this means not just for them, but for the whole of the UK,” declared Teresa May.
Sunderland makes around 300,000 Qashqais every year on Line 1 and the base is due to produce models fitted with ‘auto-pilot’ technology next year. The plant makes 600,000 vehicles a year.
Earlier this year, officials revealed they were spending £22 million to make Qashqais across the Wearside plant’s Line 2 as well, to keep pace with demand.
The factory has also been chosen to make a next generation battery for the Wearside-made Leaf electric hatchback and an upgraded Juke model.
One in three British cars are produced in Sunderland, which this year celebrated its 30th anniversary.
In addition, 80 per cent of production from Sunderland is exported to more than 130 international markets.
In excess of two million Qashqais have been built on Wearside in less than 10 years.
Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said: "This is fantastic news for the UK economy, the people of the North-East as well as the automotive industry and its supply chain.”
"The UK automotive sector has had a remarkable year - exporting over one million cars around the world and today's announcement underlines the confidence in the sector," he added. “It demonstrates our seriousness (over Brexit).”
IN TOKYO, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Company, Didier Leroy, said he had 'trust in the UK government that it will offer "fair treatment" for all companies when negotiating agreements to mitigate the impacts of Brexit.
And Ford Motor Company, the form of Jm Farley, head of Ford of Europe, has said the American company has operated in Britain for more than a cenntury and had 14,000 UK staff - many more than Nissan. Workers are employed at Dunton, Essex and at Bridgend in South Wales where the new Dragon engine is to be made from 2018 onwards.
He said: "We have just announced a £100 million investment in Bridgend to install our new Dragon engine and we have no plans to change our investments or make any new changes."
The investment will be good news for machine tool maker MAG which is Ford's preferred machine tool supplier. It will surely benefit in some way from the investment.
Last November international Fair Friend Group (“FFG”) and MAG Group announced that the acquisition of MAG Group by FFG has been completed, having received all required regulatory approvals.
Taiwan based FFG is a world leading industrial conglomerate operating in the fields of Machine Tool Technology, PCB (Printed Circuit Board), Industrial Equipment and Green Technology. With the acquisition of MAG Group, a leading machine tool manufacturer for the automotive industry, FFG’s machine tool division strengthens its position as one of the premier global machine tool suppliers. The acquisition is complementary to the existing portfolio, and will broaden FFG’s machine tool offering in the automotive industry.
FFG’s machine tool division covers a large variety of industries, including Aerospace, Railway, Mould and Die, Electronics, and Automotive. With MAG’s seven production facilities, FFG increases the number of machine tool factories to 51 across the globe, now covering Taiwan, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Japan, South Korea, China, Switzerland, India and the USA with a total of 32 brands. With over 6000 employees, the machine tool division of FFG, including the MAG Group, generates an annual turnover of more than USD 2.3 billion.

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