Britain’s largest car factory may still not have a future if the UK leaves the European Union without a trade detail in place, Nissan has stated.
The Japanese firm’s Sunderland plant, which employs 7000 workers and made 350,000 cars last year, received a boost last week when Nissan confirmed it is committed to making it the centre of its European production operations.
However, the company's global chief operating officer claims that it's still at risk if a no-deal Brexit occurs.
Ashwani Gupta told the BBC: “You know we are the number one car maker in the UK and we want to continue. We are committed. Having said that, if we aren't getting the current tariffs, it’s not our intention, but the business will not be sustainable. That’s what everybody has to understand”.
Despite closing plants in Spain and Indonesia and claiming a commitment to Sunderland last week, Nissan describes its European business as “non-core”. The brand has a 3% market share across the region.
Gupta also refused to confirm earlier reports that Alliance partner Renault would take up spare manufacturing capacity to build platform-sharing models at Sunderland, stating it was a matter for the French car maker.
Of Sunderland’s total output, 70% is promptly exported and sold in EU markets. If the UK doesn’t secure a trade deal and defaults to World Trade Organisation rules, those exports would most likely be subject to a 10% tariff.
Brexit talks between the UK and EU have resumed this week.
The UK has until the end of June to decide if it wishes to request a Brexit extension, which the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has stated would be considered.