Nissan Sunderland plant uncertainties a reminder of still-present Brexit risks

In widely reported remarks, Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta has reiterated the importance of UK-EU free trade to the future of its Sunderland manufacturing plant;

David Leggett, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“These latest remarks come as no great surprise and restate Nissan’s long-held position that its European business model would have to be reviewed if 10% tariffs were levied on cars shipped from Sunderland for sale in EU markets.

“Nissan wants to continue making cars at Sunderland, but some considerable uncertainties remain, in terms of the plant’s future activity and overall level of capacity and employment levels. Clearly Nissan’s preferred outcome is that trading arrangements between the EU and UK stay as close as possible to how they currently are and wants to avoid new tariffs if possible.

“That said, Nissan does not want to walk away from many years and huge sums of sunk investment in plant and equipment, as well as a highly trained and cost-effective workforce at Britain’s biggest automotive plant.

“Nissan appears to be ramping up pressure on the UK Government to avoid a no-deal outcome as negotiations continue between the UK Government and the EU on a permanent relationship – including trade arrangements – to apply when the current Brexit ‘transition period’ expires at the end of this year.

“Meanwhile, the possibility of capacity at Sunderland being used for the manufacture of suitable alliance partner Renault models is further complicated by French domestic political sensitivities over plant investments.”

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