Mercedes-Benz scrapped plans to start building cars at Sunderland’s Nissan plant after the UK voted to leave the EU, according to reports.
The comments were made by the German car giant’s outgoing chief executive, speaking at the Paris Motor Show.
Before Brexit there was one project where we were looking at an option of producing cars in Sunderland together.
The Times says Dieter Zetsche told attendees he had begun negotiations with the Japanese firm about the possibility of building Mercedes-Benz cars at the Sunderland plant before the 2016 referendum, but dropped the idea after the country voted to leave the EU.
“Before Brexit there was one project where we were looking at an option of producing cars in Sunderland together,” he said.
No more details of the plans were revealed.
Nissan has not commented on the report.
The report comes after Nissan issued a stark warning about the possible impact of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit on the UK car industry and its Sunderland plant.
The firm has urged UK and EU negotiators to reach a deal and said Britain crashing out of the EU’s single market and customs union and falling back on World Trading Organisation (WTO) rules would be detrimental to its operation.
A company statement said: “As a sudden change from those rules to the rules of the WTO will have serious implications for British industry, we urge UK and EU negotiators to work collaboratively towards an orderly balanced Brexit that will continue to encourage mutually beneficial trade.”
The move prompted a Government statement vowing to keep the UK as ‘one of the most competitive locations in the world for automotive manufacturing’.
A spokeswoman said: “As we have always said, our top priority is to agree an ambitious future economic relationship with the EU, and we are confident that this is the most likely outcome of negotiations.
“The government is determined to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the most competitive locations in the world for automotive and other advanced manufacturing.
Nissan is the latest Japanese firms to express concerns about the effect of Brexit on long-term investment. Panasonic is the latest to announce plans to shift its European headquarters out of the UK.