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 1118.

    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."

    What he's actually said is far from "we will leave the UK if UK leaves the EU" which is what the headline implies.

    Dishonest spin from the BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1117.

    I know leaving the EU will be hard.

    Our industries would need to be rebuilt, thanks to our current and former leaders for destroying them.

    New deals will need to be struck and we could still trade with the EU.

    The EU is a good idea, its implementation though was by the back door and needs to address public concerns about accountability, beaurocracy ect. To make me pro EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1116.

    Mr Ghosn is being totally logical. The same arguments apply to Scotland leaving the UK and the UK leaving the EU. Both would be a serious error. Large trading and free labour movement areas are critical to compete with the US, China, Russia & Japan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1115.

    They could get cheaper labour in Eastern Europe, but that's about it. The relocation costs wouldn't make sense"

    Relocating isn't that costly, especially if the EU provides regional aid to Hungary, Romania or another developing area. Indeed faced with a 10% import tax on their cars, they'd probably find it in their business interests to relocate anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1114.

    Leavning the EU is ideological and fits into Cameron's neo fascist psyche. Lets not have a little Britain but a Brutal Britain where might is right and its sink or swim.

    Because the ONLY reason they want out of the EU is to destroy social conditions other European nations enjoy.

    Its pure ideology and nothing else with the Condems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1113.


    "This year the UK has overtaken .... 1 location for FDI. Its already the largest in Europe. Next."

    Are you seriously suggesting tax payer funded FDI is good long term for the UK economy, for example Hinkley Point C plant which will cost 17bn to build and the UK tax payer 80bn +. Call me stupid but seems like a sure bet for corporate tax avoiding FOREIGN INVESTORS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1112.

    "Sounds like a disaster for our trade deficit"
    I disagree.

    But, do you think our EU regime is a "disaster?"

    "Britain to have worst 2014 trade deficit"

    Too many special interest opposed to Capitalism (competition/choice).

  • rate this

    Comment number 1111.

    5 Minutes ago
    Years ago, I had to have masses of yellow export carnets when travelling to europe with exported goods; my crossword skills were razor sharp, honed by the time sat waiting for officials to stamp my docs, bliss.


    Extrapolate that to Far Eastern markets with poorly understood, customs, law, language, bungs, tariffs etc..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1110.

    in our wonderful democracy - we've now had twits like this, the CBI , Lord Snooty & the rest of the Bullingdon bullies, even Saint Barack telling us, nay threatening us to stay in the EU. This is mostly the same bunch that wanted to bomb Syria into the ground 2 months ago and includes a president of a country more bankrupt than ours ! Their credibility is the wrong side of zero !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1109.

    I believe the Japanese tried the same tactic approx. 70 yrs ago. They didn't win then either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1108.

    HK succeeded because Japan/Korea were wasted in WWII and China was going through revolution.
    How many countries have successfully changed their main source of economy output lately?
    You'd be better off quoting the industrial revolution hoping that some brit will come up a way to make energy from thin air. But that's high tech for you, high risk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1107.

    We should realize that Nissan could join Fiat, company member Renault, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda and Ford in moving production to Turkey. This just shows how vital being in the EU is to attracting international investment in the motor industry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1106.

    Say we pay £56m per day, that's £20 billion per year. Yet we trade over £200 billion with them.

    -The Actual cost of membership is less than Half of that you have to work your way through the UKIPER figures some 2000% higher than reality to find the actual cost of membership .

    If we left the EU the total saving would be less than £300 per family but risking at least £3000 per family

  • rate this

    Comment number 1105.


    Here is an idea to counter the lies coming form the Right wing media but also political parties!!!


    Ah right it will never happen, due to the fact that unlike most other democratic countries world wide, here the watershed applies to live political shows, that's not censorship?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1104.

    1082.Global Yawning

    Cornershops are fine & good for communitys, but they are no replacment for supermarkets.

    Another way of putting it, UK may stand by principle & freedom of self determination, but would relatively turn into a small Cuban type island off the coast of Europe, in which as with Cuba, we all become increasingly poorer, excluding elite/powerful like Farage & his Tory buddies

  • rate this

    Comment number 1103.

    People always give the plusses of EU trade, of which there are many.
    They forget to mention that we also have minuses, companies move the HQs to other tax areas, Luxembourg and Dublin for example, so we spend money on their goods but they pay tax in other EU countries e.g. Amazon and Starbucks. This is a result of the EU and is not good for the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1102.

    The Alf Garnett style Little Englander xenophobia of many when the subject of Europe is raised reminds of the hilarious (but shocking) way that when Penn & Tella started an outdoor public petition to "End Women's Suffrage" in a USA town they had hundreds of woman queuing up to sign it!

    To some I ask do you really want to pull out of human rights agreements? Really? Have you thought this through?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1101.

    #1086 benbow

    Ted Heath did not take you into the EEC --the British voter did.

    -- Blame your parents or grandparents. !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1100.

    "...Those that want to leave the EU are a minority,"

    You know that for sure, do you? I only ask because a significant number of people that I speak to are in favour of withdrawal from the EU if it doesn't get its act together and shape up....probably not the "minority" that you think.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1099.

    The only reason why they are all in UK in the first place is -

    You can do with workers what you want, small Unions, weak laws
    Low wages, undermind by not existing imigration laws
    Taxlaywers and Bankers which help you to keep all you money
    Business laws which make rich richer
    Investment into the London property market

    The recipe for selling off your country, long term.....


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