Nissan plans more European cuts, report says


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

The daily newspaper Yomiuri said Friday, without naming sources, that Nissan would also close its plant in Avila, Spain, and cut distribution channels in 30 countries, mainly in eastern Europe.

The report didn’t provide details of the scale of the outsourcing. Calls to Nissan’s public relations office went unanswered on Friday, a public holiday in Japan.

The Yomiuri said the moves were 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 crossovers and Leaf electric small 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.

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 report did not give details about the reported closure of Nissan’s factory in Avila, west of Madrid, which had built the NT400 and NT500 light trucks for Nissan until 2019. It was slated 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.

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