Brexit: Zahawi shuts down no deal fears amid Nissan claims
The move will create more than 1,600 jobs in the North East city and around 4,500 in supply companies as part of a massive £1billion investment. More than £420million will also be invested in building a new-generation all-electric vehicle. Prior to the Brexit deal agreed between the UK and European Union, Nissan had issued a warning over the Sunderland plant if the Government has not been able to secure an agreement with Brussels.
But following this morning’s announcement, chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta told the BBC: “The key success factor for Brexit has always been trade-friendly business conditions to sustain our business not only in the UK but in the whole of Europe.
“Thanks to Brexit, Nissan is moving forward to use Brexit as an opportunity.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Nissan’s announcement to build its new-generation all-electric vehicle in Sunderland, alongside a new gigafactory from Envision AESC, is a major vote of confidence in the UK and our highly skilled workers in the North East.
“Building on over 30 years of history in the area, this is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.
Brexit news: Nissan has performed a major U-turn on the UK’s departure from the EU
Brexit news: Ashwani Gupta said ‘Nissan is moving forward to use Brexit as an opportunity’
“Commitments like these exemplify our ability to create hundreds of green jobs and boost British industry, whilst also allowing people to travel in an affordable and sustainable way so we can eliminate our contributions to climate change.”
But the strategy is a major change of direction for Nissan, which has long questioned the impact Brexit could have on its factory in Sunderland and operations in the UK as a whole.
In October 2019, the Japanese car giant had warned: “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 those rules 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.
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“While we don’t comment on speculative scenarios, our plans for Qashqai production in Sunderland have not changed.
“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.
“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.”
In June 2020, Nissan warned the factory in Sunderland could be “unsustainable” if Brexit went ahead without the UK and EU agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal.
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Brexit news: Nissan had previously warned of the impact a no deal outcome with the EU could have on its Sunderland plant
Brexit news: Nissan had warned the Sunderland factory would be ‘unsustainable’ without a UK-EU trade deal in place
Mr Gupta said: “You know we are the number one carmaker in the UK and we want to continue. We are committed.
“Having said that, if we are not getting the current tariffs, it’s not our intention but the business will not be sustainable. That’s what everybody has to understand.”
But in January of this year, Nissan pledged to keep its huge plant in Sunderland, with Boris Johnson describing it as a “great vote of confidence” in Brexit Britain.
The car manufacturer said the Prime Minister’s trade deal with the EU had confirmed the factory’s future in the North East city.
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Mr Gupta said at the time: “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 added Nissan would continue to invest in the UK, as it did before Brexit.
The chief operating officer said: “Sunderland is one of the top three plants in the world for competitiveness for Nissan. Brexit gives us the competitive advantage in the UK and outside.”