Nissan has repeatedly said its Sunderland plant would not be viable in the event of no-deal, with a source this week warning: “There is no Plan B.”
The car giant which directly employs around 6,000 people in the North East has already spent £400 million on machines and preparing suppliers to build the new model of the popular Qashqai next year.
But 10% trade tariffs on the models it builds – including the electric-powered Leaf – would make the plant unviable, bosses have warned.
Europe chairman Gianluca de Ficchy told a news conference at the plant in October 2019: “If a no-deal scenario means the sudden application of WTO tariffs, we know in that case our business model won’t be sustainable in the future.
“Our industry works with lower margins and if we are in a situation in which tomorrow we have to apply 10% export duties to 70% of our production, the entire business model for Nissan Europe will be in jeopardy.”
In several interviews since then, global chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta has maintained that remained the case.
A Nissan source said: “We have been planning the whole time on the basis that there will be a deal.
“Look at the money we are putting into the new Qashqai – we are already in trial production for it.
“There’s no Plan B.
“We have already spent the best part of £400 million on all the machines and tooling the suppliers, reconfiguring the line for the car.”
The plant is in Labour MP Sharon Hodgson’s Washington and Sunderland West constituency.
She said: “It has always been clear that a no-deal Brexit would be devastating for the automotive industry in the UK, and Nissan, who have a manufacturing plant in my constituency, will be no exception to this rule and Nissan have been vocal on this point themselves.
“The Government must take securing a deal seriously.
“We are just weeks away from the end of the transition period and manufacturers still have no certainty or clarity of what will be expected from them on 1st January.”
The plant will shut down for Christmas from December 19, reopening on January 4.