Currently reading: Nissan 'to review future' of Sunderland plant in case of no-deal Brexit
Financial Times report claims firm could cut Qashqai production from factory if UK departs EU without a trade deal

Nissan could close its Sunderland factory if the UK leaves the European Union without a trade deal, according to reports in the Financial Times.

The newspaper, citing three people with knowledge of the matter, reports a no-deal Brexit could prompt the Japanese firm to stop making the Nissan Qashqai SUV at the site – which could ultimately lead to the closure of the plant.

In November 2016, Nissan pledged to build the hugely popular Qashqai in the UK, after then-chairman Carlos Ghosn received assurances from then-prime minister Theresa May that the firm’s operations would be protected from the impact of Brexit – but the agreement was reportedly contingent on a ‘soft’ Brexit with an EU trade deal.

The FT claims that, under a global review Nissan has since undertaken, the Sunderland plant could be downsized or even closed if a no-deal Brexit makes it uncompetitive to ship cars from the site to the EU. Currently, Nissan also makes the Juke and Leaf models at Sunderland.

In a statement issued to Autocar, Nissan said: “While we don’t comment on speculative scenarios, our plans for Qashqai production in Sunderland have not changed.”

But the firm did warn that a no-deal Brexit could have a serious impact on British-based industry.

It added: “Since 1986, the UK has been a production base for Nissan in Europe. Our British-based R&D and design teams support the development of products made in Sunderland, specifically for the European market.

“Frictionless trade has enabled the growth that has seen our Sunderland plant become the biggest factory in the history of the UK car industry, exporting more than half of its production to the EU.

“Today we are among those companies with major investments in the UK who are still waiting for clarity on what the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU will look like.

“As a sudden change from those rules to the rules of the WTO will have serious implications for British industry, we urge UK and EU negotiators to work collaboratively towards an orderly balanced Brexit that will continue to encourage mutually beneficial trade.”

Current prime minister Boris Johnson has said he is committed to the UK leaving the EU on the currently scheduled date of 31 October regardless of whether a deal has been agreed.

A no-deal Brexit would mean UK-built cars such as Nissan models made at Sunderland would be subject to tariffs when being shipped to Europe. But under a trade agreement between the EU and Japan, Nissan would be able to export models made in its home country into the EU without tariffs. That would potentially make it more profitable to make models for Europe in Japan rather than the UK.

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Earlier this year, Nissan reversed a decision to make the next-generation of the X-Trail SUV at Sunderland, citing Brexit concerns and the decline of diesel as reasons. The plant also recently lost the Infiniti Q30 and QX30, after Nissan decided to withdraw its premium sub-brand from Europe

It has also cut back a number of jobs at the plant as part of a global cost-cutting initiative.

Nissan opened its Sunderland plant in 1986, and is believed to have invested more than £4 billion in it since then. The plant has recently been upgraded to prepare for the next-generation Nissan Juke crossover, which is due to go into production shortly.

Honda is in the process of closing its Swindon factory, in a move it says is not primarily due to Brexit. But BMW and Toyota have warned they could switch production from the UK in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Read more

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Opinion: Brexit is a problem for the UK car industry, whatever your stance

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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aston01 2 October 2019

Read the Title!!

The article states 'to review future of Sunderland in case of a no deal brexit' , no one is closing the plant because of brexit as it hasn't happened yet!?!? 

mesumguy 2 October 2019

More capacity in the USA and Mexico

We will take whatever production was built for the large markets here thanks. Pretty certain they have to think really hard before writing off such a long term capital investment and dedicated workforce.

s4i100 2 October 2019


They voted for redundancy and will get their wish. The region voted to leave the EU so no sympathy from me.