UK: Nissan to give some new Qashqai production to Russia
Nissan says it will give some production of its new Qashqai model to Russia to manufacture locally in the emerging market.
Speaking as Nissan rolled out its new Qashqai model at the Sunderland plant in north east England yesterday (22 January), the automaker stressed the importance of the Russian arena, despite a recent dip in sales growth.
"Russia is going up, but it is not going up as quickly as it has done," Nissan SVP manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management Europe, Colin Lawther, told just-auto at the launch event in Sunderland.
"If you look at the penetration ratio, it is a very low penetration market. There is still real potential.
"The Russian government has been quite forward-thinking issuing decrees allowing us to import parts at low import duty and manufacturing cars for sale in Russia. It allows the Russian government to promote localisation and also allows manufacturers to make a profit."
Lawther noted once production had "stabilised" in the UK, the automaker would give some Qashqai production to Russia as well as the X-Trail.
"Russian manufacturing for Russian sales," said Lawther. "We will send some parts initially to Russia. Already we supply some common parts from old Qashqai and old X-Trail to Russia.
"We have already a supply chain set up between here and St Petersburg."
The supply chain SVP also referred to recent comments by some automakers with a UK presence warning of the economic consequences should Britain exit the European Union.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said he wants to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership prior to a referendum on membership of the economic bloc if his Conservative Party forms the next government following elections due in 2015.
"If there was any change in legislation, we would fit our business around that," said Lawther.
"We are not spending any management time around that. We do not see it as an issue for today."
Nissan vice president, manufacturing, UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick, also noted last year's 1.7% output fall of Juke, Note, Qashqai and Leaf models, was due to an extended Easter shut-down and several weekends where the automaker made production unavailable due to modifying the facility.
Production levels also dropped slightly with the introduction of three new models in ten months.
Despite the modest fall, Nissan still built 501,756 of the 1,509,762 cars (up 3.1%) made in the UK.
That was the highest volume since 2007, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).