Nissan boss warns UK over possible EU exit


Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn warned the carmaker would have "to reconsider its strategy" if the UK exited the EU

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Nissan will reconsider its investment in the UK if Britain leaves the European Union, chief executive Carlos Ghosn has told the BBC.

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a public vote on EU membership in 2017 if the Conservatives win the next general election in 2015.

But Mr Ghosn also added that he considered the exit scenario to be unlikely.

Nissan's new model will be built in Sunderland, where it employs 6,500.


Carlos Ghosn may be the most important global industrialist yet to have weighed into the row around the UK's membership of the EU.

In a brief interview with the global boss of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, he was upbeat about the new Qashqai and the fact that it would secure jobs in Sunderland.

He's also more positive than most about the prospects for the European auto market and for electric vehicles. But it's his comments on the UK's membership of the EU that are making the headlines.

The good news is that almost three decades after starting production in Sunderland, the plant remains a cornerstone of Nissan's operations. It was built to serve the European market. But Mr Ghosn emphasised that it is a European plant, based in the UK.

Then came the bombshell - if the UK were to leave the EU, the Nissan would have to "reconsider our strategy and investments for the future".

Mr Ghosn's empire stretches around the globe. He understands trading blocks, the merits of free trade, the consequences of trade barriers and tariffs. So his comments are pragmatic.

Would the Sunderland plant close if the UK were to leave the EU? No. But in years to come, would it remain the focus of its European operations, continually winning new models and investment? That is now far from clear.


When asked how Nissan would react if the UK were to leave the EU, Mr Ghosn said: "If anything has to change, we [would] need to reconsider our strategy and our investments for the future."

Nissan 'blessed'

Praising the Sunderland plant, Mr Ghosn told the BBC it was one of the most productive in Europe and said Nissan was "blessed" to own it.

With sales of more than 240,000 last year, the Qashqai, to be built in Sunderland, is Nissan's best-selling car in Europe.

The car accounts for more than half the output of the Sunderland plant and Mr Ghosn says the new model "ensures" a lot of jobs in the city.

This is not the first time that Mr Ghosn has linked Nissan's UK investment to the country's role within the EU.

In October 2002, he told the BBC News website that the Sunderland plant's future would depend on whether the UK adopted the euro.

However, the UK has continued to use the pound and Nissan is still making cars in Sunderland.

European market

Mr Ghosn, who is also chief executive of Nissan's sister company Renault, says that after five years of decline the European car market is arriving at "the end of the tunnel".

He says that next year, the European market should be stable with possibly a little growth.

Action by the European Central Bank, including Thursday's cut in interest rates, could help that recovery according to Mr Ghosn.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1518.

    @1512. Sally the Rothbardian

    1502.Old Muso
    How is wanting to reclaim sovereignty xenophobic, can you explain your comment?


    Because it suggests a closed, parochial mindset that would rather see this country done down than see it flourish within the EU and on the world stage. A mind that is, at its root, deeply racist, a mind that is xenophobic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1517.

    Interestingly I had been looking at getting a Qashqui. With that kind of attitude from the CEO Nissan can go jump, no nissan for me!. I hope that they lose a lot of business from that kind of comment.

  • Comment number 1516.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1515.

    1499. The Village Idiot
    "I think most people only want what we started with in 1973"

    Yep we do, and that is what we voted for, unfortunately we were conned by successive governments into believing that the current EU is what we voted for. Free trade become a members club only and with an annual fee to be one. Going against the grain will cause an economical crisis for the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1514.

    Surely the biggest factor would be the exchange rate with the Euro and as we aren't in the Euro it wouldn't make a lot of difference.
    He is probably more worried that he might have to pay some UK tax as opposed to in Luxembourg or wherever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1513.

    should the UK leave the EU, at least that would force Cameron or another government to look hard at how they can survive by themselves and lets be honest our leaders have been selling off parts of the UK for years, sooner or later it may catch up to them. we are so comfortable in our lie of being "Great Britain" that most stuff is made in china or europe, but not one thing we can do ourselves.

  • Comment number 1512.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1511.

    1471 Kitty

    "People who voted then, are saying that if they knew what it would end up as, they wouldn't have voted Yes"

    Well I was among those who voted Yes - were you?

    Some of these same people today say they wish they hadn't while others say they wish they had

    We can all change our minds one way or another after nearly 40 years

  • rate this

    Comment number 1510.

    Companies investing in the UK would like to make sure their businesses can compete worldwide. If the UK leaves the EU, exports would be hit big time as one needs to be part of groups to be able to survive and thrive.
    David Cameron was not educated in economics, hence his dumb and ridiculous ideas all based only on talk will hit the UK big time.
    By that time he will be sitting in the opposition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1509.

    No doubt Nissan will not be alone in thinking this. Many multinationals will be planning where their future investment goes in the event of a yes vote by the UK. An independent Scotland in the EU could do quite well if England vote to leave.

  • Comment number 1508.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1507.

    Its like some dystopian futuristic nightmare with corporations deciding govt policy.So Nissan would 'review' investment?Given the UK is one of the biggest markets for his cars he prob needs reminding how pouting because a society exercises free while might rebound and cost him many sales if he relocates.And to where?France?Their economy is shambolic.Enough EU propaganda and bullying-call his bluff

  • rate this

    Comment number 1506.

    1490 joecos

    "Honda could pull the plug on production in Sunderland anytime."

    psst, Honda are in Swindon. Ah well, its all up norf innit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1505.

    1493.Sally the Rothbardian
    You mentioned democracy
    Yes, not the mob, but if public = mob, you don't like the public having a say?

    why should the mob impose its versions on us all?
    Because without that everyone does what they want - steals, murders, maybe works. Is that what you are proposing? Then no technology as it requires people to work together & we become hunter gatherers again

  • rate this

    Comment number 1504.

    Well, reading the general drift of these comments I would strongly advise kids currently going through senior school at the moment to make sure they learn their modern languages, and exit this pathetic small minded country before they find that jobs are even more difficult to come by than they are now!

    I fear for the UK's future, and that of it's younger generation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1503.

    Riggadon #1480 -

    Yes, I agree. Why are the pro-Euros so afraid that we'll leave the Euroclub, I wonder? Perhaps because when we've gone somebody else will have to pay the membership fees. Let's retrieve our country, our way of life and our self-respect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1502.

    He is right to warn. The xenophobes want to return us to the dark ages.

  • Comment number 1501.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1500.

    1482. Trytastic
    "so we stop buying Ford products"

    Sounds easy.

    We have lost £trillions in our manufacturing, it's too late to reverse the trend.
    Steel manufacturing.

    Do we really want to ship our only remaining big industry abroad because we can't see further than our nose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1499.

    I think most people only want what we started with in 1973, a European free trading block.

    Britain is a democracy and we should live or die by are own laws, rules and own currency.

    Trying to build a united states of Europe is a total waste of time and money.


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