Nissan set to decide whether Sunderland plant will build new Qashqai

Carlos Ghosn at the launch of the Sunderland-built mark two Qasqai
Carlos Ghosn at the launch of the Sunderland-built mark two Qasqai

Nissan will decide next month whether its Wearside plant will build a third generation of the best-selling Qashqai, Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn has revealed.

And the firm's global boss says he can look at the future of its Sunderland plant 'with more ease,' after talks with the UK Government.

Mr Ghosn met British Prime Minister Theresa May last week to seek assurances about the effects of the decision to leave the EU, amid concerns being outside the single market could leave the firm facing tariffs of up to 10 per cent on exports to Europe.

He told reporters at the car giant's company headquarters in Yokohama: "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."

He added he had received reassurance the British government would be "extremely cautious" in "preserving the competitiveness" of the Sunderland plant.

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

Production of the next Qashqai is expected to begin around 2018 or 2019, meaning the firm will need to decide shortly where the car will be built.

A spokesman for Theresa May said today discussions were continuing: "As you saw relatively recently the Prime Minister had a very productive conversation with the president of Nissan and obviously the dialogue between government and Nissan is ongoing," he said.

*Nissan has become the largest shareholder in rival motor manufacturer Mitsubishi after acquiring a 34% stake.

Mitsubishi Motors will be part of the global Alliance with Nissan and Renault, which will become one of the world’s top three automotive groups by global volumes, with sales of 10 million units in fiscal year 2016.

"The combination of Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors and Renault will create a new force in global car-making,” said Carlos Ghosn.

"It will be one of the world’s three largest automotive groups, with the economies of scale, breakthrough technologies and manufacturing capabilities to produce vehicles to serve customer demand in every market segment and in every geographic market around the world.”

The move will also see former Sunderland plant boss, now Nissan Chief Performance Officer, Trevor Mann, become chief operating officer of Mitsubishi.