Nissan hopes to employ some 100,000 workers in Britain by 2030, up from the 60,000 it currently employs, and raise annual net vehicle sales to 800,000 from 575,000 if the UK sneezes in the EU, according to a plan aimed at anticipating a hard Brexit.
Japan’s second largest carmaker plans to boost the number of staff in Britain from 60,000 now to 100,000 by 2030 and possibly extend employment in the UK by several hundred if the UK’s treatment under hard Brexit goes as the company sees it.
“If Brexit goes the way I see it today I’m very positive,” Hiroto Saikawa, chief executive of Nissan, said. “We will increase [auto] capacity and hope this increase of capacity will reflect their increase in demand.”
I want to see the plan to boost Britain’s production capacity to 7m a year, and perhaps even more than that, as long as the government is able to get its negotiating skills right Source: Nissan-Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa
At a press conference in Amsterdam ahead of the talks of the UK’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit, Mr Saikawa praised UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who attends the Coda electric vehicle unveiling alongside Nissan later on Friday, for having “clear ideas” on how to find a “win-win” for all sides.
Mr Saikawa, who had already laid out Nissan’s concerns over a hard Brexit in a public letter earlier this year, repeated those on Friday, revealing plans to build three models in the UK as soon as September at its Sunderland plant, and stating that new models would be built in the UK irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations. “I want to see the plan to boost Britain’s production capacity to 7m a year, and perhaps even more than that, as long as the government is able to get its negotiating skills right,” he said.
Some 30,000 of Nissan’s 60,000 British employees are connected to the Sunderland plant, which is the largest in Europe. The plant, which will also make EVs in 2019 and beyond, makes 300,000 cars a year, with nearly a third exported outside the EU.
For the second year in a row Nissan’s UK vehicle production was in line with its target. Automotive sales, which amounted to 918,000 in 2018, were also roughly in line with expectations, making Nissan the third-biggest carmaker in the UK, behind Volkswagen and Toyota.
Mr Saikawa reiterated that production from Nissan’s plants in the UK would not stop if the UK were to leave the EU with no deal, stating: “Our presence in the UK, or the growth of production, will not be impacted even if we have no market for our cars.”
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Saikawa stressed the importance of securing a transition period: “If we see this as a political problem, then we can resolve that if we have a bit more time to explain to the government.”
He added that Nissan did not see a no-deal Brexit as a “worst-case scenario”, and was hopeful that the UK and EU negotiators could secure a deal by October. If the UK and EU did not reach a deal, then the time for talks to extend would be short, he suggested.
“I’m really hopeful,” he said. “On the contrary, there are very positive signs in the negotiations, and I hope they can be successfully concluded as soon as possible.”