Blog: Nissan Sunderland success story and the EU question
Dave Leggett | 10 September 2015
Nissan's Qashqai has been an enormously successful model in Europe and the company is now looking to sales of that model in other parts of the world. The smaller Juke, also built in the UK, has also been pretty successful. When it first emerged, I was not a big fan of the quirky styling. It looked like a Qashqai that had been crudely bashed about to create a model of smaller dimensions. But, again, Nissan was early to a segment – small SUV/crossovers – that has seen very good growth in recent years. And I will admit that the styling of the Juke has grown on me. At least it's not bland. I guess people who once would have been happy with a small hatchback are opting for something with a little bit more character these days.
Nissan's Sunderland plant has been quite a success story here and Nissan has now confirmed that Sunderland will be one of the plants building the next generation Juke. The second generation Juke will be based upon the Renault-Nissan Alliance's CMF-B architecture. It should enter production in early 2017.
Will executives at Nissan be concerned that the UK could possibly leave the EU in the future and that trading conditions with the rest of Europe will be impacted? It is certainly an area of uncertainty, but trade between the UK and the rest of Europe would not cease if the UK left the EU. A trade deal of some sort would be struck. UK manufacturing plants would inevitably continue to build and operate to EU standards. Nissan has, over a period of many years, sunk a lot of investment into its UK plant and developing associated supplier infrastructure. It's not something that goes into reverse at the flick of a switch and if that investment is performing well, the company looks at how to build on that further, while also managing risk. Has the UK being outside of the eurozone, retaining sterling, seriously damaged UK investment or the performance of the UK economy? The evidence suggests an emphatic no; vitally important trade with Europe has not been impacted.
I'd say it is very unlikely, even in the worst case scenarios, that the UK's exports to the EU would be suddenly hit with full external tariffs (remember, there are plenty of imports to the UK from the EU also and there are some very big companies who don't want that upset). The UK's EU membership uncertainty is probably more of a future investment issue for companies coming to Europe afresh, but plenty of other factors are also in the mix when it comes to very big investment decisions.
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