Nissan plans to shut Barcelona plant, Spain considers how to save it

As part of its global survival strategy Nissan Motor may be looking at the possibility of closing its Barcelona plant, although no final decision has been made, Reuters reported. According to Nikkei newspaper, Nissan is planning to reduce its global capacity by 20% and close its plant in Barcelona, shifting its production to Renault factories.

But Spain was fast to react by making a proposal to Nissan to prevent the closure. The plan apparently includes government assistance and partnership opportunities, but no details were provided. A Nissan Spain spokesman declined to comment on the Nikkei report, but said the carmaker plans to present an updated global business plan in late May.

“The company does not comment rumours or information about the future of the plant,” a Nissan Spain spokesman said, adding that Nissan’s European chairman had earlier told union leaders at the Barcelona plant they would be informed about the factory’s future before summer. The plant partially reopened on 4 May after the coronavirus outbreak forced a total shutdown in mid- March, but a workers strike brought production back to a total halt from 6 May. As a consequence of the strike, over 2,000 out of the 3,000 workers in Nissan’s plant and related facilities in the Barcelona area have been temporarily laid off.

Unions have long complained about the lack of a clear strategy on the Barcelona plant’s future, which produces pick-up trucks and electric vans. Nissan produced 55,000 vehicles in Spain during fiscal 2019, about 10% of its output in Europe. Reuters reported in early May that Nissan will pull back from Europe and elsewhere to focus on the United States, China and Japan under a plan that represents a new strategic direction for the carmaker.

On Thursday Nissan said it would slash its production capacity by a fifth to help reduce its fixed costs by 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) as it looks to become a smaller, more cost-efficient automaker following a slide in sales. The Japanese company said its new four-year plan aims to ensure steady growth as opposed to the excessive expansion of the past.

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