Nissan is delaying new investments in its Sunderland plant until the UK has concluded Brexit negotiations with the EU, its chief executive said yesterday in the first public admission by a carmaker that concerns over future tariffs are hurting business decisions.
Carlos Ghosn, who also runs France’s Renault, said that the Japanese carmaker would defer decisions on where to build new generations of models currently assembled in Britain’s largest car factory until it knows whether it will face tariffs when exporting to the EU.
Jaguar Land Rover warned that new EU tariffs would damage its UK business and put jobs at risk.
Both Nissan and Renault which share manufacturing through a global alliance, have other plants across the EU. The Sunderland plant is their most efficient and profitable plant in Europe.
UK car production has hit a 14-year high for August, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has said. According to the trade body, 109,004 vehicles rolled off UK production lines last month, up 9.1% on the figure for August last year. Demand rose at home and overseas following an increase in investment in UK car plants.
The SMMT’s latest figures showed demand from British consumers climbed 6.2% while export volumes were up 10.2%. In total 1.1 million vehicles have made in Britain so far this year, a 12% increase on last year.
MG has announced it is to stop making cars at its Longbridge plant and will be moving production to China ending manufacturing in the UK.
The firm said vehicle assembly was no longer “required” and cars would arrive “fully built ready for distribution”. MG said there would be 25 redundancies but sales, marketing and after-sales operations would remain at the plant.
More than 400 design engineers and other staff at the SAIC Motor Technical Centre (SMTC) at the site and MG Motor employees are not affected. “Centralising production demonstrates MG’s commitment to the future, as well as its continued focus on attracting and developing the highly-skilled automotive engineering and design talent present in the UK,” a spokesman for MG said. Where possible production staff would be moved into new roles, the spokesman added.
Two models are currently designed and made the site – MG3 and an SUV, the MG GS – and sales are increasing with the firm reporting a total year on year rise of 18%.
BlackRock is among 80 investors that plan to sue Volkswagen for €2bn after accusing the carmaker of failing to disclose its diesel emissions scandal soon enough. Law firm Quinn Emanuel is to file a detailed case on behalf of the investors against the German carmaker in its home state of Lower Saxony.
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is the eighth-largest holder of VW’s ordinary shares. Other investors involved in the lawsuit include Norway’s oil fund, State Street, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
BlackRock confirmed its involvement in the lawsuit led by Quinn Emanuel, saying: “On behalf of their investors, a number of BlackRock-managed collective investment schemes are pursuing, alongside other institutional investors, legal action against Volkswagen AG in connection with Volkswagen’s failure to disclose to investors its use of ‘defeat devices’ that manipulated emission tests.”
The case organised by Quinn Emanuel has been funded by Bentham Emanuel has been funded by Bentham backed by Elliott Management, the activist hedge fund. In March, another law firm Tisab, filed a lawsuit against VW in a German court on behalf of 278 investors including Calstrs, the large US pension scheme. This claim seeks €3.3bn and alleges several breaches of duty by VW in relation to the capital markets.
In November 2014 the first aluminium bodied F150 pick-up truck was drove of the production line. It was a watershed moment for the lightweight metal, which is challenging steel’s dominance in the automotive industry.
Carmakers in Europe and the US are turning to aluminium as they seek to make their vehicles lighter to meet fuel efficiency regulations. Companies such as Telsa use the metal to offset the bulk of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars. Aluminium is one third the weight of steel, more malleable and resistant to corrosion.
Global production of aluminium will grow by 3.2% each year between 2015 and 2020. Use of aluminium alloy in a car’s main structure, which includes the doors, bonnet and side panels, will rise by 17.5% each year between 2015 and 2025.
In the automotive and aerospace sectors aluminium faces competition from carbon fibre- reinforced plastic, which despite its cost is seen as an important material of the future.