LONDON — Nissan could decide to end production of its Juke subcompact SUV in the UK after the country voted to leave the EU.
Nissan Chief Performance Officer Trevor Mann declined to give assurances that Juke output will continue at the automaker’s factory in Sunderland, northeast England.
Mann said making a decision on where to build the Juke for European markets will be difficult until it is clear how the UK and EU will trade together.
Nissan is continually reviewing investments, he said. “We make all our decisions on merit and added value to shareholders. We make them based on what we know, and right now we don’t know,” Mann told Automotive News Europe at the Paris auto show last week.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said at the show that the automaker may ask the UK government for compensation as a condition for making new investments if Nissan has to pay tariffs to export from the UK to the EU.
Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK are expected to take two to three years. Ghosn said Nissan could not wait so long to decide on new investments.
Nissan builds the current Juke at its plant in Sunderland, northeast England. Last year the company said it would invest to build the second-generation Juke in Sunderland, without giving a start date. “This announcement gives security to our Sunderland plant beyond 2020,” the company said at the time. Media reports have said the new Juke will go on sale in 2018.
Around 80 percent of Nissan’s Sunderland output is exported, mostly to EU markets.
Nissan will end production of the Note next spring to increase capacity for the company’s best-selling model in Europe, the Qashqai compact SUV, Nissan Europe’s head of sales and marketing, Guillaume Cartier, told journalists at the show.
The Note has been built in Sunderland since the first generation model was launched in 2006. The second-generation car went on sale in 2013, but sales have been in decline, Cartier said.
Nissan’s Sunderland factory is the UK’s biggest car plant with annual production of just over 500,000.
The Juke is Nissan’s second best-selling model in Europe after the Qashqai while the Note has the lowest volume among the brand’s mainstream models. Nissan sold 65,044 Jukes in Europe in the first eight months, down from 67,174 the year before, according to JATO Dynamics market researchers. Note sales were 24,800, down from 33,038.