No-deal Brexit could make Nissan’s EU sales model ‘unsustainable’, says chief

Workers on the production line at Nissan's factory in Sunderland. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Workers on the production line at Nissan's factory in Sunderland. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A no-deal Brexit could put Nissan's business selling UK-manufactured cars to the EU 'in jeopardy', its chairman has warned, after cutting night shifts at the company's Sunderland plant.

Gianluca de Ficchy said the company is prepared for Brexit scenarios and that the shift reduction is unrelated, but added that the company is unable to plan for the longer term.

Two-thirds of the components for the company's newest model, the Juke, come from the EU, and 70% of production is aimed at the continent.

He said: "It is important to have some clear discussions about the future and about the situation in which we have to operate, which we have with Brexit.

"There has been many speculations about the current uncertainty. I wish to clarify the Nissan position about that.

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"We have been working together in Europe to define all the risks associated with Brexit coming in and we think we are all really well prepared.

"I think from an operational point of view we have worked in order to prepare for all the different scenarios."

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But Nissan was unable to make plans for the future due to uncertainty about where models will be built.

De Ficchy said: "If a no-deal scenario means the sudden application of WTO tariffs, we know in that case our business model won't be sustainable in the future.

"Our industry works with lower margins and if we are in a situation in which tomorrow we have to apply 10% export duties to 70% of our production, the entire business model for Nissan Europe will be in jeopardy.

"That's the reason why we continue to work with all scenarios."

He assured the plant's 6,000 workers the business still planned to manufacture there, with £100 million invested in Juke production.

He said: "We know the workforce is concerned about that situation (Brexit) - we are also concerned.

"That's the reason we are here - to express our concerns."

He said he had no specific message to the prime minister but that the business required a clear understanding of the Brexit decision.

Nissan employs more than 6,000 people directly in its Sunderland plant - the biggest in the UK - and supports around 35,000 UK jobs in total.

The Wearside plant also produces the Qashqai and the Lead electric vehicle, and has made over 10 millions cars in its history.

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