Renault-Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn called-in to 10 Downing Street, London recently for a brief chat with new British PM Theresa May.
In the balance was Nissan’s plant at Sunderland in the north of England. It is Britain’s largest-ever vehicle plant, currently directly employing 7,000 workers and a further 28,000 in suppler and support companies.
One in three British cars are currently made by Nissan in Sunderland.
While Nissan has already invested £3.7-billion in its Sunderland operation, Mr Ghosn had earlier suspended further investment there (to tool-up for the all-new Qashqai SUV) as Britain’s exit from the European Union meant no more duty-free arrangements for Sunderland-built vehicles to be sold in Europe (where Nissan is one of the biggest-selling brands).
As some 80 per-cent of the vehicles made by Nissan in Sunderland are exported it is understandable why Mr Ghosn was a bit agitated.
In fact most of Britain’s manufacturing industries who rely on selling their products in Europe have a right to be agitated about the poorly thought-out decision to exit the European Union.
Fortunately good news emerged from the meeting. “The support and assurances of the U.K. government enabled us to decide that the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail will be produced in Sunderland,” Mr Ghosn revealed. “I welcome British Prime Minister Theresa May’s commitment to the automotive industry in Britain and the development of an overall industrial strategy.”
For Australia that also means that both the Juke and the Qashqai can continue to be sourced out of the UK as they are currently, along with the Infiniti Q30 and QX30 which are also built at Sunderland.
So there’s a winner - not only does Sunderland get the green-light for the all-new Qashqai, the new X-Trail is also heading up north.
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