Nissan will close the Barcelona Free Trade Zone plant and move its production to Renault factories, as reported on Thursday by the Japanese newspaper Nikkei.
The possible closure of the Catalan plant is part of the restructuring plan that the Japanese manufacturer is developing. Plan cut $ 2.8 billion (€ 2.6 billion) a year in fixed costs before the drop in sales caused by the Covid-19 and after years of declines in profit and low profitability.
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is being forced into a major reorganization due to the pandemic and Nissan could undertake a 20% reduction in its production capacity until the fiscal year ending in March 2023, according Nikkei. Currently, it assembles around seven million vehicles per year, with 55,000 units last year in Spain, which represents 10% of its European manufacturing.
However, the cut will focus on the areas of marketing and research. In addition, the company will gradually remove the low-cost brand Datsun from its product range.
Nissan will present its results for the fiscal year 2019/2020 on May 28, the day on which it is expected to report on its medium and short-term strategy. The Japanese brand advanced at the end of April net losses of 95,000 million yen (800 million euros).
The Zona Franca plant has long been working at very low levels of capacity and, once May ends, it will stop manufacturing the pick up Mercedes-Benz X-Class. The unions fear that the closure of the plant could occur after the loss of the model and the bad moment the brand is going through in Japan due to the Covid-19.
The social part ensures that the management of Nissan Iberia hardly provides information and alerts that more than 3,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs are at risk.
The Japanese firm resumed activity on May 4 in the Free Trade Zone after seven weeks of hiatus to meet the orders it had committed to Daimler, but just two days later it was forced to stop production and send most of the workers to house with a paid permit after not being able to continue working due to lack of parts.
The stoppage was a direct consequence of the indefinite strike that began on Monday at the company’s plant in Montcada i Reixac, which deals with the stamping of the bodywork and which also forced to stop manufacturing in the center of Sant Andreu de la Barca.
In this context, the company chose to include the 900 workers on Line 2 of the Free Trade Zone in the ERTE again due to force majeure and the unions have filed a lawsuit against Nissan, considering that this new inclusion in the file “does not it has legal coverage ”and that violates the right to strike.
Nissan applied an ERTE due to force majeure to the more than 3,000 employees of its Catalan plants after declaring the state of alarm for the coronavirus. At its centers in Ávila and Los Corrales de Buelna (Cantabria) it resumed activity on April 26 because they manufacture components for the Renault-Nissan alliance.
According Reuters, The Asian firm will take advantage of the current crisis situation to progressively reduce its presence in Europe and thus focus its efforts on the United States, Japan and China..
For their part, sources from the Spanish division of Nissan consulted by Five days refer to the words of the company’s president in Europe, Gianluca De Ficchy, who stated on April 25 that the future of Catalan plants will be reported before the technical summer shutdown, as planned before it exploded the pandemic. “We do not comment on rumors or speculation”they add.
The workers have even sent a letter to the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the “delicate situation” that the company’s plants are going through in Spain, where it employs some 4,000 people directly. .
UGT-Fica has also demanded from the company a plan that guarantees the industrial future of both Nissan’s own work centers and that of supplier plants. For his part, the secretary general of CC OO, Unai Sordo, asked the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, on Monday within the framework of the pact to extend the ERTE, to seek the involvement of Renault to avoid the closure of the Catalan plants of the Asian firm.
The problems started with Carlos Ghosn
Problems for Nissan began with the arrest of former President Carlos Ghosn. The former director, considered for years the model executive of the automotive industry, It was arrested in Japan in November 2018 for alleged financial irregularities already end of December 2019, violated the conditions of his freedom on bail and fled the country to Beirut.
After more than a year away from the cameras and a few days after his flight, Ghosn reappeared to denounce his arrest in Tokyo and a plot by Nissan and the Japanese prosecution to remove him. He claimed that during the time he was detained, his “human rights” were constantly violated.
With the outbreak of the Ghosn case, even the end of the Nissan-Renault alliance was speculated after more than 20 years. Renault offered a merger agreement to Nissan in 1999 with the aim of increasing the profitability of both companies and facing competition from overproduction in the sector. The Asian group had been looking for a financial partner for a few months to solve their economic problems and even negotiated with the former Daimler-Chrysler.
Renault owns 43.7% of Nissan, while it has 15% of the French, although without voting rights, and 34% of Mitsubishi Motors.