Japan’s Nissan will review its decision to make a new Qashqai car in Britain if there is a no-deal Brexit, a source with knowledge of the matter told AFP Tuesday.
The source confirmed speculation over the potential reversal of the sport utility vehicle’s production at Britain’s biggest car factory in Sunderland, northeast England.
Such a move could eventually spark closure of the sprawling site, according to the Financial Times business newspaper.
The carmaker had pledged in October 2016, in the wake of Britain’s shock referendum in favour of leaving the European Union, that it would still manufacture the model at the facility.
However, Nissan itself has declined to comment on the media reports on Tuesday.
“While we don’t comment on speculative scenarios, our plans for Qashqai production in Sunderland have not changed,” the Japanese giant said in a statement.
“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.”
The company had stated three years ago that the new investment would secure and sustain the jobs of more than 7,000 workers at the plant.
Former boss Carlos Ghosn had warned, prior to the 2016 decision, that Nissan needed guarantees from London over Britain’s exit from the European Union before it could commit to further investment.
However, after Ghosn was ousted last year in a corporate scandal and amid sliding profits, Nissan decided to embark upon a global review.
The plant is Nissan’s largest facility in Europe, also making the Juke and electric Leaf car models, with more than 440,000 cars rolling off the production line every year.
Nissan repeated its calls Tuesday for the UK government to spell out the nature of the future trading relationship between London and the continent.
And it called upon British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative administration to seek an “orderly balanced” departure from the EU that would not damage trade.
“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,” added Nissan on Tuesday.
“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 the current arrangements 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.”