AFP- Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said yesterday that a decision on further investment at a car plant in Britain would be made “next month”, amid concerns about Brexit’s impact.
Ghosn warned in September that Nissan needed guarantees from London over Britain’s vote to exit the European Union before it could commit to further investment at the factory in the northeastern English city of Sunderland.
“As long as I have this guarantee then in a certain way I can look to the future of Sunderland with some kind of ease,” Ghosn told a press briefing at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama south of Tokyo.
Nissan would decide by November on its plans for future production of the Qashqai sport utility at the plant, he added in response to questions. At issue is whether Nissan would continue building the next generation of the vehicle after 2019.
“What is important for us is what are the consequences of an exit from Europe,” Ghosn said. “The fact is our Sunderland plant is a European plant based in the UK, 80 percent of the production is exported.”
Sunderland is Britain’s biggest car factory, which has around 7,000 employees, making it the group’s largest facility in Europe.
It also makes Nissan’s Juke and electric Leaf car models, with around 500,000 cars rolling off the production line every year.
Some 80 percent of the plant’s daily output of 2,000 cars is exported to 130 nations around the world. Nevertheless, the northeast of England voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving the European Union in June’s referendum, with 61 percent of people in Sunderland siding with the “leave” camp.
“We explained our concerns very clearly (to the British government),” Ghosn said. “We are not asking for any advantage but we don’t want to lose any competitiveness no matter what are the discussions. “I think the UK government understands our position and they say they will be extremely cautious in their own discussions to preserve the competitiveness of their industry.” He added:
“It won’t be up to us to compensate for any negative consequences.” Ghosn was speaking a day after it was announced he would become chairman at Mitsubishi Motors, as it struggles to navigate a damaging mileage-cheating scandal.
The appointment will make Ghosn the head of three major automakers, including France’s Renault which holds a major stake in Nissan.