Production of the Nissan Qashqai could move from the Japanese automaker’s UK plant following the country’s decision to leave the European Union, Automotive News Europe reports.
CEO Carlos Ghosn said a decision will be taken next month as Nissan gears up for the next-generation Qashqai, which is expected to be launched sometime in 2018 or 2019.
The Qashqai has been built at the Sunderland factory, in the North of England, since it was introduced in 2006. Opened in 1986, the plant also produces the Nissan Note, Juke, and Leaf, plus the Infiniti Q30. It’s often cited as one of the most efficient car production facilities in the world; in 2015, 475,000 cars rolled out of the doors, 80 percent of which were exported.
Ghosn had expressed concerns about Sunderland’s future competitiveness after the Brexit vote, especially if the UK is not able to maintain access to the European single market, suggesting Nissan may stop investment there.
“We’re not asking for any advantage [from the UK government], but we don’t want to lose competitiveness no matter what the discussions,” Ghosn said after his recent meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
He added that he had been assured the UK government would be “extremely cautious” in “preserving the competitiveness” of Nissan’s UK operations, which also include the technical center that created the Qashqai. “As long as I have this guarantee… I can look at the future of Sunderland with more ease,” Ghosn said.
Should Nissan decide to move Qashqai production out of the UK, it is likely to be built alongside the closely-related Renault Kadjar at the French manufacturer’s Palenica, Spain facility. Renault is the controlling partner in the Renault-Nissan Alliance, holding a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan. However, Nissan does have its own factory in Spain, in Barcelona, which produces the Pulsar hatchback and several commercial vehicles.
Source: Automotive News Europe