Ghosn hails 'positive and productive meeting' over Sunderland plant future

Carlos Ghosn: Nissan UK investment in jeopardy post Brexit

Carlos Ghosn and PM Theresa May have discussed Nissan’s future in Britain, with the Nissan boss describing the meeting as ‘positive and productive’

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has met with prime minister Theresa May to discuss Nissan’s continuing investment in its Sunderland plant. 

Ghosn recently said the company’s future investment depends on the negotiations surrounding Brexit. Following today’s meeting, which he described as “positive and productive”, Ghosn said the government “will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business”. 

“I welcome their [the cabinet’s] commitment to the development of an industrial strategy for Britain.”

May said she was “pleased to have met with Mr Ghosn today to discuss our shared belief that Britain remains an outward-looking, world-leading nation in which to do business. We will continue to work with Nissan as we develop the environment for competitiveness of the automotive industry here in the UK to ensure its success.”

Neither Ghosn nor Nissan have made any official announcement about the company’s future investment since the meeting, but the discussion brings Nissan one step closer to making a decision on whether to continue its UK production investment as planned. 

The BBC reported Ghosn’s previous comments, as well as his warning that Nissan’s continued investment would be put at risk by the vote to leave the EU.

The Sunderland plant employs 6700 people and manufactures half a million cars per year. Nissan claims it is the biggest car factory in the UK.

At the start of the year, Nissan invested £26.5 million in the battery manufacturing part of its Sunderland operations to continue Nissan EV production at the plant, as well as ramping up production of the Qashqai, which is also built in Sunderland.

Ghosn remained diplomatic, despite having favoured the UK staying in the EU ahead of the referendum on 23 June. “We are reasonably optimistic at the end of the day common sense will prevail from both sides,” he said.

He went on to say Nissan’s level of investment in the UK depended on the agreement reached between the UK and the EU over customs and trade, although he was clear that prices of European-built cars will rise in the UK as sterling weakens post-Brexit. Nissan has since announced price rises of 1.5% this month.

Nissan’s market share has dropped in 2016. Its 5.15% decline represents 0.5% of total UK car registrations. Despite the Brexit vote, Nissan’s sales were buoyant in July, with a minor increase over the same month in 2015.

Nissan partner Renault, on the other hand, had a bad July, with a 31% reduction in July sales compared with July 2015, despite an overall year-to-date market share growth of 14.2% over 2015.

Vauxhall’s future in the UK has also been called into question following the EU referendum, sparking fears that the UK’s prolific car manufacturing industry may suffer as a result of the vote. 

Source: Car

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