Nissan appears to be close to a decision on whether or not to select its UK (Sunderland) plant to manufacture the next generation Qashqai model or make it at an alternative facility in Europe.
The decision is a big one in the light of the UK’s planned exit from the EU and uncertainties over the UK’s future trade arrangements with the EU after Brexit (scheduled for 2019).
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told Bloomberg that the company is “on the eve of a sourcing decision” and that it can be expected next month.
“If you don’t take care of your competitiveness, one day or the other you lose your sourcing,” he said.
Ghosn met with UK prime minister Theresa May last week to highlight Nissan’s concerns over the competitive impact of any changes to trading arrangements between the UK and EU. If post-Brexit UK falls back on WTO trade rules in the absence of a trade deal with the EU, car shipments to the EU could be faced with the 10% common external tariff (CET). Nissan exports around 80% of its UK-produced cars (almost 500,000 a year), much of that destined for European markets. The Qashqai crossover has been very successful for the company.
“We and the British government understand each other,” Ghosn told Bloomberg. “The future of Sunderland lies in the competitiveness of Sunderland. We have sent a clear message on that and there’s no confusion about that.”