Ashwani Gupta, the Japanese company’s global chief operating head, told the BBC its commitment to the car plant, the UK’s largest, could not be maintained if there was not tariff-free access to the bloc.
The EU is the biggest market for the factory, which made just under 350,000 vehicles last year and builds the Qashqai, Juke and Leaf models.
“You know we are the number one carmaker in the UK and we want to continue. We are committed. Having said that, if we are not getting the current tariffs, it’s not our intention but the business will not be sustainable. That’s what everybody has to understand,” Gupta told the BBC.
The UK left the EU on Jan. 31 but the main terms of its membership remain in place during a transition period until the end of this year, allowing it time to negotiate a new free trade deal with the bloc. However, the talks are at an impasse.
Last week Nissan said it would close its plant in Barcelona, Spain, from December as part of global cost cuts. The facility is its main car factory in Spain and employs 3,000.
Gupta also told the BBC that any plans for its strategic partner and 43% shareholder Renault (PA:RENA) to take up spare capacity at the Sunderland plant would be a matter for the French carmaker.