Nissan boss gives post-Brexit assurance to Sunderland plant

In a move that assures the future of car making in Sunderland, Nissan COO has said that Britain’s trade deal with the European Union will redefine the UK’s automotive industry.

Nissan Sunderland
(Image: Nissan)

Company COO Ashwani Gupta told journalists at a briefing that the last-minute deal would ensure the Japanese carmaker’s competitiveness in the UK and overseas.

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“Brexit has brought the business continuity in the short-term, protects 75,000 jobs across Europe and most importantly – all of our models which we manufacture in Sunderland,” he told a news conference in Japan.

He added that Nissan would continue investing in the UK and would move production of batteries for the Leaf to Britain to utilise trade rules guaranteeing zero tariffs on EU exports. These apply if at least 55 per cent of the car’s value originates from the UK or the EU.

“Sunderland is one of the top three plants in the world for competitiveness for Nissan,” said Gupta. “Brexit gives us the competitive advantage in the UK and outside.”

The batteries are imported from Japan, but Gupta told the BBC: “We’ve decided to localise the manufacture of the 62KW battery in Sunderland so that all our products qualify [for tariff-free export to the EU].”

By the end of 2023 all Nissan models sold in Europe will be manufactured with an electric equivalent.

Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed the news, taking to social media to say: “Nissan’s decision represents a genuine belief in Britain and a huge vote of confidence in our economy for the highly-skilled workforce in Sunderland. It means the city will be home to Nissan’s latest models for years to come.”