Decision due on future of UK Nissan Qashqai production

Company at ‘eve of a sourcing decision’ on next-generation model, says chief executive

Nissan, the UK's top automobile producer, will decide next month whether to continue producing one of its best-selling vehicles in the country preparing to leave the European Union.

The Japanese carmaker is determining whether to build the next-generation Qashqai sport utility vehicle from the Sunderland plant, which employs about 6,700 people, chief executive Carlos Ghosn has said.

The factory’s competitiveness needs to be protected regardless of Brexit-related discussions, he added.

"We're at the eve of a sourcing decision," Ghosn said on Friday at Nissan's headquarters in Yokohama, Japan.

“If you don’t take care of your competitiveness, one day or the other you lose your sourcing.”

Compensation call

Nissan met prime minister Theresa May last week after having called on the UK to compensate the company for any negative consequences resulting from Brexit as a condition for new investment in the country.

Nissan built one in three of the vehicles the UK produced last year and exports more than half of them to Europe, exposing Japan's second-largest automaker to risks.

While exporters including Nissan have benefited from the pound’s fall since the June referendum, May has indicated favour for a so-called hard Brexit, gaining greater control over immigration but losing membership of the single market.

That’s raised concerns UK exports might face tariffs in the EU.

“We and the British government understand each other,” Ghosn said. “The future of Sunderland lies in the competitiveness of Sunderland. We have sent a clear message on that and there’s no confusion about that.”

About 61 per cent of votes cast from Sunderland during the June referendum favoured leaving the EU.

– (Bloomberg )