Tyne & Wear

Nissan to make Sunderland Qashqai decision 'next month'

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan chief executive Image copyright European Photopress
Image caption Carlos Ghosn recently called for compensation from the British government if Brexit affects Nissan negatively

Car giant Nissan says it will make a decision next month on whether to produce the next Qashqai SUV at its Sunderland plant following Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

The firm has recently suggested investment in the factory could cease if its economic competitiveness is affected by Brexit.

The factory is Britain's biggest car plant and employs almost 7,000 people.

A government spokesman said talks with the company were "ongoing".

The Wearside factory produced 475,000 vehicles last year, of which 80% were exported.

Chief executive Carlos Ghosn was speaking to reporters at the Japanese company's headquarters in Yokohama, news agency Reuters reported.

It followed a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street last week.

'Preserving competitiveness'

He said: "We're not asking for any advantage [from the British government], but we don't want to lose any competitiveness no matter what the discussions."

Ghosn said he had received reassurance that the British government would be "extremely cautious" in "preserving the competitiveness" of the plant.

"As long as I have this guarantee... I can look at the future of Sunderland with more ease."

Production of the next Qashqai model is expected to begin in 2018 or 2019.

The time it takes to bring a new car into production means Nissan needs to decide where to make its next-generation model soon.

Businesses have been concerned that Britain is headed towards a "hard Brexit", which would leave it outside the single market and facing tariffs of up to 10% on car exports.

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