Saturday, 15 October 2016
Nissan ‘more confident’ over future of UK plant
FEARS that Nissan’s Qashqai flagship model could leave the car-maker’s UK plant in the north-easy may have been eased after the company’s boss said he was “confident” the UK will remain a competitive place to do business.
This is according to the Northern Echo newspaper, which adds that Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn claims talks with Prime Minister Theresa May provided initial post-Brexit assurances.
Ghosn, Nissan’s chief executive, previously hinted future production of the firm’s popular Qashqai, made at its near 7,000-strong job Sunderland plant, could hinge on Downing Street compensation for tariffs imposed on exports and subsequent financial hardship caused by the EU change.
Nissan already builds the Qashqai in Russia and it has other factories across Europe, including those operated by sister company, Renault, which would dearly love to manufacture the Qashqai.
Ghosn previously said a decision on where to make an all-new Qashqai was looming, adding confirmation would be needed long before Brexit becomes a reality.
However, speaking after a meeting with Prime Minister May on Friday, 14 October, Ghosn said he was buoyed by the tone of the government’s stance.
He said: “I welcome the government’s commitment to the development of an industrial strategy.
“We have made significant investments at Sunderland and our employees build 2,000 cars a day - 80 per cent of which are exported to more than 130 countries.”
“We want to ensure this high-performing factory remains competitive globally and continues to deliver for our business and for Britain,” he added.
“Following our productive meeting, I am confident the government will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business.
“I look forward to continued positive collaboration between Nissan and the government.”
May said she was committed to providing trading conditions suitable for Nissan’s future growth, confirming talks will continue with the Japanese manufacturer.
She added: “Our automotive industry is a great British success story and Nissan has been at the heart of it. The Sunderland plant is one of the most productive anywhere in the world. But we are now at the start of the complex negotiating process as Britain exits the EU and I have been clear there will be challenges ahead. However, we will continue to work with Nissan as we develop the environment for competitiveness of the automotive industry in the UK.”
Sunderland makes some 300,000 Qashqais every year on its Line 1 and the base is due to produce models fitted with ‘auto-pilot’ technology next year.
However, 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.
In the wake of the weakness in the pound sterling against the euro, however, Nissan generates more profit per car when selling into the euro-zone.