The newspaper, citing three people with knowledge of the matter, reports a no-deal Brexit could prompt the Japanese firm to stop making the 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.