According to Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta, a no-deal Brexit that worsens trade conditions between the UK and the European Union through increased tariffs will make the maintenance of its Sunderland factory unsustainable. The Japanese firm currently employs 7,000 people at the plant, the largest of its kind in the country.
This warning comes shortly after the European Union has warned the British authorities that there are barely ten days left to reach an agreement. “If finally there is no agreement, obviously our business in the UK will not be sustainable,” the executive recently told Reuters.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned his top ministers that it is not certain that a trade deal will be reached, insisting, however, that the country will get ahead with or without him. Nissan currently makes three models in Sunderland: the Juke, the Qashqai, and the LEAF, which are by far its most important vehicles in the European market.
Even though at the time the United Kingdom promised Nissan that Brexit would not affect its competitiveness, the truth is that the tariffs resulting from a breakdown without a trade agreement would mean a notable increase in costs for the Japanese brand, which could also see how its production slows down due to new customs controls.
Gupta has denied that Nissan seeks compensation from the English authorities in the event of a no-deal Brexit, contradicting some reports that the company and its compatriot Toyota would be negotiating such a deal with the British government. If there is a no-deal Brexit, Sunderland will be doomed.
What will happen to the production of the Juke, Qashqai, and LEAF in that case?
Considering that after the closure of its plant in Barcelona, Sunderland was the only factory that Nissan had left in Europe, it seems clear that the firm will have to resort to the factories of its partner Renault. Thus, the Juke could be produced in Valladolid with its brother Captur and the Qashqai in Palencia with the Kadjar. And the electric LEAF? Possibly its third generation will be manufactured in Douai (France) and the future electric Megane, with which it should share a platform and all its components.