The future of Nissan`s Sunderland plant, the most productive car plant in Europe, is under threat due to the strength of the pound, according to a report in The Financial Times (30/6/00).

Following similar complaints from other car manufacturers including Ford, GM, BMW, Honda and Toyota, President of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn said in an interview with the FT that the company was considering shifting new investment to the euro zone. The weakness of the euro against sterling has been a major factor in affecting Nissan`s profits with the company having recorded a Y38.1bn ($36bn) loss in the region last year.

Ghosn said that although Nissan had no intention of closing the Sunderland plant, currency issues could jeopardise a potential £150m expansion of the site, which employs 5,000 workers. He added that the plant faces its biggest threat since its opened back in 1986.

Meetings between Nissan and the British Government “at the highest level” – said to include British Prime Minister Tony Blair – are set to take place. Britain`s Trade and Industry Secretary, Stephen Byers, is also expected to be present at the talks.

The future production of the next generation Micra model at Sunderland also hangs in the balance with a decision set to be made at the end of the year.