Renault-Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said UK investment will depend on the outcome of Brexit talks.
Ghosn said that he is “reasonably optimistic” Britain will continue to be a “big partner” for the European Union, but stressed that future investment in the UK will depend on what kind of trade deal is created.
Ghosn told the BBC: “We are reasonably optimistic at the end of the day, common sense will prevail from both sides.”
“The question is what will happen to customs, trade and circulation of products,” he added.
“That will determine how, and how much we will invest in the UK.”
The future of the automaker’s Sunderland plant (the UK’s biggest car plant) relies on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.
Most of Sunderland plant’s production is exported to Europe. Last year it made 500,000 cars.
Mr Ghosn said: “Most of the production out of Sunderland is exported to Europe. So obviously for us the relationship which is going to prevail between the UK and Europe is very important. So the future investment decisions are going to depend a lot into … Okay, the UK is out of Europe. Fine. But what’s going to be the new status?
“So you’re going to see a period where most companies are going to be waiting to see what’s going to be the new status.”
The car giant is a huge employer in the North East, with 6,700 people workers at its Wearside plant, in addition to generating almost 30,000 jobs in the supply chain elsewhere in the region.
A spokesman for the North East Chamber of Commerce said: “It will be a decision for Nissan to take but what we want to see is action from government during the Brexit negotiations to ensure the North East does not lose out as a result of any new arrangements.
“Nissan is a huge player in the region and makes up a huge part of our exports and we need to see long-term investor confidence in the North East and to be seen as a desirable location for exporters.
“What government can do is help to support business confidence in the region to ensure we are able to invest in skills.”