Nissan may ask UK for compensation over Brexit

Nissan Motor Co may ask the UK to compensate it for any negative consequences resulting from the nation's departure from the European Union as a condition for making new investments in the country, chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn said.

The Nissan boss warned that Brexit uncertainty and possible tariffs could damage investment in the UK's biggest car factory.

Ghosn said the firm would need "compensation" for tax barriers that might result from Britain leaving the European Union.  Nissan's plant in Sunderland produces about a third of the UK's car output.

The comments come amid warnings from the UK car industry about the risk of EU tariffs from Brexit.

"If I need to make an investment in the next few months and I can't wait until the end of Brexit, then I have to make a deal with the UK government," Ghosn, who also runs France's Renault, said at the Paris Motor Show.

"You can have commitments of compensation in case you have something negative," he said.

Nissan is due to decide early next year on where to build its next Qashqai sport utility vehicle.

The plant at Sunderland is Nissan's biggest factory in Europe, employs 6,700 people and has the capacity to produce around 500,000 cars per year.

"We would like to stay. We're happy, we have a good plant, which is productive but we cannot stay if the conditions do not justify that we stay," he added.

Ghosn told the BBC that the Sunderland plant would "lose competitiveness" if Brexit meant the UK had to pay 10 per cent tariffs to import into the EU.

The International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, said on Thursday it was in other countries' interests to avoid tariffs which he said would "harm the people of Europe".

The UK's vote to leave the EU may cost automakers about 2.8 million light-vehicle sales through 2018, researcher IHS Markit said in June. Brexit may lead to levies of as much as 10 per cent on vehicles built in the U.K. and exported to the EU, while components may face a 2.5 per cent tariff, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the nation's auto industry association.

In 2015, around 1.59 million cars were manufactured in Britain with 80 per cent of them for exports - mostly to European countries. The industry employs around 800,000 people.

Honda too jittery
In a separate call for action on Brexit, Japanese carmaker Honda on Thursday urged the British government to take "a fast decision".

"Then what we need is free trade," Jean Marc Streng, Honda's general manager for Europe, told the BBC. "The sooner we have a clear statement on Brexit the better it is for us," he said.