22nd October 2021
Aerial view of the Nissan plants in the Zona Franca area of Barcelona.
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Negotiations step up to strike deals for the future of Nissan’s Barcelona plants

The future of Nissan’s Barcelona plants has been discussed again this week, with Spanish authorities due to enter further talks with Chinese car manufacturer, Great Wall Motors, about a possible takeover of one of them.

There are currently three Nissan owned plants in Barcelona – in the Zona Franca, Montcada i Reixac and Sant Andreu de la Barca – with the largest plant under consideration by the Chinese firm, although negotiations are said to be explicitly non-exclusive.

The negotiations aim to strike a deal in advance of Nissan pulling out of all three plants that are due to shut in December.

A statement issued by the Nissan Motor Corporation also refers to the other two plants, that could be taken over by the Spanish electric scooter manufacturer, Silence, and by engineering firm, QEV Technologies, who specialise in e-vehicles.

National and regional authorities are keen to strike a deal with Nissan and have introduced parties to the negotiating table to preserve jobs and support the development of the local economy.

Currently, Nissan’s three Barcelona plants employ around 3,000 people directly and 20,000 indirectly.

According to a CGT union source, only 1,600 direct jobs are at risk from the closures, as the remainder of employees will benefit from early retirement and other measures.

Aerial view of the Nissan plants in the Zona Franca area of Barcelona.
Aerial view of the Nissan plants in the Zona Franca area of Barcelona. (Nissan Corp)

The current negotiations follow Nissan’s announcement in May 2020 about its intentions to close its three Barcelona plants, as part of an overall restructuring of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

Originally, the plan was to stop production in Barcelona by the end of 2020, but the deadline was postponed by a year to give authorities more time to find companies interested in taking over the facilities.

Initial plans to convert the plant into a battery production facility appear to have faltered, and the current negotiations with the new companies are progressing well.

Nissan has stated that it is holding preferential talks with Great Wall Motors, Silence and QEV, with further negotiations expected over the next month.

A committee of government, labour and company representatives is working to thrash out a deal with Nissan for each of the three plants.

It appears that negotiations have been progressing. Raül Blanco, Secretary General for Industry and SMEs of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, said, ‘We are working seriously and amicably within the envisaged timeline. There are projects and options for the future of Nissan plants. We are optimistic.’

Nissan’s industrial head in Spain, Frank Torres, issued a statement, saying ‘we are convinced we will be able to find solutions that are beneficial to everyone’.

Final decisions about the plants are expected to be made soon, with announcements next month if deals can be finalised.

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