Nissan: No Olympic Sponsorship, No Production

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan

Nissan’s UK plant could lose the production contract for Nissan’s Leaf EV, thanks to the London 2012 Olympics’ committee. Production of the Leaf at Nissan UK’s Sunderland plant would almost certainly have been confirmed, sources tell Autocar, had the Olympics picked Nissan’s bid, creating instant demand for some 2,000 Leafs. Because they chose BMW to sponsor the 2012 Games, production of the Leaf in the UK is no longer a sure thing. Though Sunderland is still said to be in the running as the European Leaf production site, Nissan have plants in Portugal and Spain that are bidding for the job. And after the London Olympic committee’s implication that Nissan’s bid lost because they couldn’t rely on its EVs, Nissan seems ready to make all of England pay for the insult.

Admittedly, Nissan UK did have put in a strong bid: its fleet would have had an emissions level of 60g/km (when the requirement was 120g/km), all cars would have been built in the UK, and after the Olympics, the cars would have been transferred to London City Hall for use as their own fleet. Which makes me wonder whether City Hall didn’t have a say in picking BMW as the sponsor. I mean, what would you rather drive? A BMW 3 series? Or an electric Nissan? In any case, the Olympic Committee couldn’t possibly have known that British jobs were at stake.

“The Olympic decision would have accelerated the Leaf process in the UK,” Autocar quotes the source. “There would be a local urgency for the cars and a client base to satisfy and time pressure to work to.”

Perhaps this is a last ditch attempt to get Lord Peter Mandelson, business secretary to the UK Government, to help the Olympic committee, “see the value” in Nissan’s bid. Or, maybe this is supposed to be the incentive for Mandelson to sweeten Sutherland’s bid for Leaf production. Mr Mandelson is, reportedly, very keen for Nissan to build the Leaf in the UK. So, maybe it isn’t game over, yet…?

Cammy Corrigan
Cammy Corrigan

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  • Robbie Robbie on Dec 02, 2009

    It would have been a very odd decision to locate additional labor-intensive manufacturing in the UK anyway. The Nissan UK plant came online before the rapid economic growth in the UK since 1990 (which raised wages in the UK) and before producing in Eastern Europe gave easy access to the European Union.

  • Brandon Regueiro Brandon Regueiro on Dec 02, 2009

    bmws gonna be pissed at whoever they've already buttered up if nissan gets picked after all

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