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No-deal Brexit may lead Nissan to move SUV production out of UK: sources

London

NISSAN Motor Co. will consider moving production of its SUVs outside the UK if the country leaves the European Union without a deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Manufacturing of the Qashqai SUV could be moved to Spain, while the compact Juke may move to another overseas plant, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are confidential. The departure would be a major blow to UK manufacturing as the company's flagship factory in Sunderland is Britain's largest.

In February, Nissan backed out of a plan to build the X-Trail sport utility vehicle in Sunderland, citing the unresolved status of EU-UK trade after Brexit. A showcase for automation and modern working practices, the Sunderland facility in north-east England helped propel Britain to record auto output and sales in 2016, before concerns about the Brexit vote and a government campaign against diesel models began to weigh on demand.

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Nissan said in an e-mail that while it doesn't comment on speculation, plans for Qashqai production haven't changed.

"Today we are among those companies with major investments in the UK who are still waiting for clarity on what the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU will look like," the company said. "We urge UK and EU negotiators to work collaboratively towards an orderly balanced Brexit that will continue to encourage mutually beneficial trade."

UK carmakers have been campaigning against a no-deal split since the 2016 referendum. Last week, Jaguar Land Rover said it would close its British factories for a week in November to guard against disruptions to supply chains from a possible no-deal Brexit.

BMW AG plans to halt production at its Mini plant in Oxford for two days on Oct 31, and said earlier that it would reduce output by eliminating a work shift in the event of a no-deal split. BLOOMBERG