Nissan warns no-deal Brexit will be 'unsustainable' for its European business
10 October 2019, 17:17 | Updated: 10 October 2019, 18:20
Nissan has warned that a no-deal Brexit would leave its European business unsustainable, raising concerns over the future of production at its Sunderland plant.
Nissan Europe chairman Gianluca de Ficchy said that if no-deal led to 10% tariffs on cars, required under World Trade Association rules, there could be dramatic consequences.
Speaking at Nissan's UK plant in Sunderland, the largest in the country employing 6,000 people, he said: "If a no-deal scenario means the sudden application of WTO tariffs, we know in that case our business model won't be sustainable in the future.
"Our industry works with lower margins and if we are in a situation in which tomorrow we have to apply 10% export duties to 70% of our production, the entire business model for Nissan Europe will be in jeopardy."
The Sunderland plant produces 440,000 cars a year. It makes the Qashqai SUV and Leaf electric models, and will begin production of the new Juke compact SUV next week.
Mr de Ficchy said two-thirds of the 160 suppliers for the Juke were based in the EU and 70% of its sales would be exported to the union.
He said the company was prepared for most Brexit scenarios, but did not believe it could offset the impact of tariffs in the event of no-deal.
"The only frustration we have today, as before: we don't have clarity.
"We do not have a specific message to Boris Johnson - my message [is] as a business we do not have a clear understanding on the future evolution of the Brexit discussion.
"It is important to have some clear discussions about the future and about the situation in which we have to operate, which we have with Brexit.
"We have been working together in Europe to define all the risks associated with Brexit coming in and we think we are all really well prepared.
"I think from an operational point of view we have worked in order to prepare for all the different scenarios.
"We know the workforce is concerned about that situation [Brexit] - we are also concerned. That's the reason we are here - to express our concerns."
The car industry has repeatedly warned about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
Vauxhall has previously said that it may halt production of the Astra, and Honda has announced the closure of its Swindon plant in 2021, though did not publicly cite Brexit as a factor.
Ralf Speth, chief executive of Britain's biggest car maker Jaguar Land Rover, said last month that it would be "not possible at all" to stockpile - as a precaution against no-deal Brexit disruption - the 20 million parts a day that it relies on to be delivered to its assembly lines.