Any final exit by the United Kingdom from the European Union that worsens business conditions through boosted tariffs would threaten the sustainability of Nissan Motor’s operations in the country, the Japanese automaker’s chief operating officer (COO) cautioned.
Nissan, which has hired 7,000 workers at Britain’s biggest auto plant in the northeastern city of Sunderland called in June for an “orderly balanced Brexit”.
But the latest warning comes as the EU warns the UK it has fewer than 10 days left to secure a deal governing trade from 2021.
“If it happens without any sustainable business case, obviously it is not a question of Sunderland or not Sunderland, obviously our UK business will not be sustainable, that’s it,” Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer (COO), informed Reuters on Wednesday.
Nearly 11 months after it officially quit the union, Britain and the EU have still not worked out a deal to cover nearly $1 trillion in annual trade after a transition period that has kept custom rules in place.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned his top ministers that a trade pact is far from certain but also said that Britain would thrive with, or without, a deal.
Gupta said Nissan was not seeking compensation from the UK for costs incurred from any no-deal Brexit, contradicting media reports that the automaker and Toyota Motor would do that.
“We are absolutely not thinking that and we are not discussing it,” Gupta said. “Our commitment remains, and it will continue as far as our business is sustainable.”
Toyota operates a plant in the Midlands county of Derbyshire and builds engines at a factory located in Wales.
Regarding a separate plan by Johnson to bring forward to 2030 from 2035 a UK ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans, the Nissan executive said his automaker was ready to respond.
“That is not only the UK’s transition plan, every country is talking about electrification. We are ready.”
Like other automakers, Nissan is presenting new electric vehicles and autonomous drive cars as demand for the new automotive technology as markets, led by China, show recovery from a demand slump caused by the coronavirus crisis.