Nissan has reportedly drawn up contingency plans to pull out of manufacturing in mainland Europe in the event of a hard Brexit in favour of ramping up its production in the UK.
If a trade deal is struck between the UK and the EU that leads to tariffs on car exports, the Japanese carmaker would focus on selling more cars in Britain, the Financial Times reported, citing two people involved in the discussions.
Under the proposal drawn up towards the end of last year, Nissan would maintain its factory in Sunderland and aim to boost its 4% UK market share to about 20%. At the same time, it would shut its struggling van factory in Barcelona and stop manufacturing in France.
The contingency plan is said to be one of several drawn up in preparation for post-Brexit tariffs, and was drafted before Makoto Uchida became Nissan’s chief executive on 1 December, the FT reported.
Nissan denied having made such a plan, however, and said its Sunderland plant would be under threat along with its European operations if the UK fails to ensure tariff-free access to the EU market. Following the UK’s departure from the EU on Friday, both sides are expected to set out their negotiating positions on Monday before trade talks next month.
A Nissan spokesman said on Monday: “We deny such a contingency plan exists. We’ve modelled every possible ramification of Brexit and the fact remains that our entire business both in the UK and in Europe is not sustainable in the event of WTO [World Trade Organisation] tariffs.