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 98.

    Mr Ghosn, that's your prerogative.

    However, although you are clearly very used to getting what you want from self-promoting poiticians, you, nor any other business leader or champion of industry will be allowed to dictate to the English people.

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    RE - 76.
    Just now

    It is about time someone pointed out to the swivel-eyed-loons, the bigots and xenophobes not the cost of being IN the EU but the costs of us LEAVING the EU.

    When you lead your comment with a statement like that it shows you have lost the ability of conduct a grown up debate, name calling is normaly the preserve of the school playground.

    Perhaps you need to grow up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    "designing them & running a solvent car business seems beyond us (see Rover)"


    Getting a publicly-owned business to operate successfully in a land, where the government appoints people who do not believe in public enterprise to run them was always going to be hard.

    Selling them to people who could get rich quick, and then watch the pension pot bail creditors similar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    If Nissan are trying to send a signal that the UK need to remain in the EU, you can bet your bottom yen that it is linked to France, Renault and shareholders.

    If they admit the UK plant is the most productive, then there is no logical reason to move it when it would be unlikely that any form of trade tariffs would exist between the UK and EU (we are a net importer).

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Couldn't we just split the UK so that part of it is in Europe and part of it isn't, and thus put an end to all of this uncertainty?

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    It would be interesting to gain a wider opinion from international, non-EU businesses on how their investment would change if we left the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    One of the highest rated comments on the polio in syria story states that it is a non story and the nissan bosses statement should be open for comments. One of the highest rated comments on this story is that it is a non story. BBC bashers always get rated the highest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Call it being held to ransom, whatever you want, but the plain fact is that if EU exit happens and Nissan's ability to ship UK made Japanese cars into the EU is limited or curtailed in any way, Nissan will be off to mainland EU, FACT.
    I foresee an initial announcement (2017) along the lines: "Nissan opens facility in Hungary sharing Qashqai production with UK" as the opening gambit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Good to see this news. I have said for a long time that more business people need to get involved in this debate. And for those accusing him of interfering, suppose he is right and Nissan and other really would (or even might) up sticks if we left - isn't it better that we know even if it upsets UKIP types?

    But he needs to go further and spell out why it is important for the UK remain in the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    This highlights the problem with an EU referendum. We don't know how it will affect people working for UK based foreign companies, Brits working abroad & future trade. We've got a bunch of skewed figures & biased reporting. How can we vote on something as important as this without straight facts & figures?

    Those in power wont care either way, they're already millionaires.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    @29:mike ivybridge
    "We're quite capable of building our own cars. We were doing it long before Nissan even existed."

    If you'd ever owned one of the unreliable jokes produced by BL et al you'd know why Nissan, Honda etc sell so well. That the surviving local manufacturers improved so much is down to the competition from vastly superior imports.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    How many cars did Nissan make in the UK?
    How many of those did they export?
    How many Nissans made abroad were imported to the UK?
    What is the NET value of Nissans export from the UK to Europe?

    I don't suppose anyone at the BBC could do some proper journalism rather than rewrite Nissan's official Press Release?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    The important thing to remember with Japanese car manufacture in Britain is that this country is not manufacturing it is assembling. The component parts are made in Japan we put them together. The reason for this is to be able to access the European market through a tenuous link. This is illustrated in what happened after Fukushima . No parts came out of Japan so assembly in Britain stopped.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    It really is story about nothing this one, probably aimed at scaring us to want to stay in the Eu by the beeb who want us to stay in the Eu for obvious reasons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    "Global Yawning
    If anything it would open more opportunities for negotiation within Europe, and more importantly, worldwide"

    Can you provide evidence to back up your statement. Or are you just assuming this will happen once the UK leaves the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    OK, BBC, you are pro-EU. We get it.

    Now leave it to the British people to decide whether they are in or out, and the British people are certainly not represented by you and your often biased left-wing organisation.

    For my part, this article seems crude and his comments mistranslated. I am still open-minded on the EU question. If there are strong arguments against leaving, I am yet to see them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    #49 I wouldn't be too sure of that. Think there are quotas as to how many cars can be imported into the EU and therefore Nissan as a Japanese Co. need to produce cars in Europe to keep European sales figures up. Its a huge market for them and the main reason they are in UK is to get round the quotas

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Goes to show that a minority benefit from the EU no wonder they don't want out. Most hardworking ordinary Brits like me do not see any benefits - all we see if other countries take take take...

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I think a referendum is a terrible idea, people will just vote based on scaremongering and tabloid bull and we will end up way worse off because of it.

    Without the EU the Tories would find it so much easier to catapult us back to Victorian era workers rights and treatment of the poor.

    I'd rather we were more like Germany than more like the US, it's a pity that the lobbyists disagree.


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