Nissan plans more European cuts, report says


TOKYO — Nissan plans to further reduce its presence in Europe, including outsourcing sales of its cars to alliance partner Renault, according to a Japanese newspaper.

Nissan will cut distribution channels in 30 countries, mainly in eastern European markets such as Hungary and Poland, but also in parts of western Europe such as the Netherlands, the daily newspaper Yomiuri said on Friday, without naming sources.

Nissan will continue to sell its cars by using Renault’s sales network and local importers, the paper said.

The automaker’s target markets in Europe will be Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Spain, and northern Europe, where electric vehicles are becoming more widespread, according to the report.

Nissan will also close its plant in Avila, west of Madrid, the Yomiuri said, The factory built the NT400 and NT500 light trucks for Nissan until 2019. It was due to be converted to production of spare parts for Nissan and Renault starting in 2020.

Nissan has already announced that it will shutter its plant in Barcelona, although it delayed the closure until December, 2021 after talks with unions and local politicians.

With the closure of both plants, all commercial vehicle production in Europe will be outsourced to Renault, the Yomiuri said.

Nissan will outsource more production of the cars it sells in Europe to Renault, the paper said.

Renault already builds the Micra small hatchback for Nissan at a factory in France as well as Nissan-branded vans. Under a new alliance global strategy, the French automaker will take the lead in developing and selling models in Europe as well as small cars.

The moves are part of Nissan’s global turnaround plan, which was announced last spring. Under the plan, Nissan is moving its operations away from Europe and shifting its focus to China, the U.S. and Japan.

The Yomiuri report did not address the future of Nissan’s factory in Sunderland, England, where the automaker builds the Juke and Qashqai SUVs and Leaf small electric car. Nissan had warned that a so-called hard Brexit could have made its UK business unsustainable, but the trade agreement struck Dec. 24 with the EU may have granted the factory a reprieve.

The Sunderland factory has at times built more than 500,000 vehicles a year, though output dropped below 350,000 units last year and will be much lower in 2021. Nissan has earmarked 400 million pounds ($543 million) for production of the new Qashqai in Sunderland and has invested most of that already, it said in November.

Nissan expects to post a record operating loss of 340 billion yen ($3.25 billion) in the year to March 31. It is cutting global production capacity and model numbers by a fifth and aims to slash operating expenses by 300 billion yen over three years.

The Yomiuri said Europe accounted for most of Nissan’s losses.

Nissan’s sales in the EU, UK and EFTA markets fell 28 percent to 260,133 in the first 11 months of 2020, according to industry association ACEA. Its market share dropped to 2.4 percent from 2.5 percent.

Reuters contributed to this report

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