Uncertain future for workers at Nissan’s plant two weeks before closure

Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motors rejects investment as over 1,700 employees face unemployment

A Nissan employee arrives for work, August 31, 2020 (by Albert Cadanet)
A Nissan employee arrives for work, August 31, 2020 (by Albert Cadanet) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 13, 2021 04:55 PM

The fate of carmaker Nissan’s biggest manufacturing plant in Catalonia remains unknown two weeks before the Japanese company is set to depart. The main candidate to replace the company at its Barcelona Zona Franca industrial estate location has withdrawn its candidacy on Monday.

The closure of the manufacturing plant will leave around 1,700 employees jobless. However, union workers are looking into alternative options, while the Catalan business ministry confirmed that they are working "to ensure the reindustrialization process at Nissan’s plant ends well for the thousands of affected workers." 

Great Wall Motors, a Chinese car manufacturer, was the main hope for workers. The company had shown an interest in using it to launch their European expansion but recently decided to double their manufacturing goal of around 300,000. 

For this reason, the Nissan plant is "not big enough" for the Chinese carmaker, as sources from the labor ministry told the Catalan News Agency. 

Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, said that "there were several options" and despite "granting favorable conditions, it has not been possible to get this Chinese company to invest."   

Another option for Zona Franca’s factory is, possibly, becoming an electromobility hub led by Catalan company QEV Technologies that hosts several businesses related to zero-emissions transport following a €1 billion investment.

Factories to close before 2022

At the beginning of August 2020, and following weeks of workers’ protests, Nissan reached a deal with its workers to postpone the closure of its car manufacturing plants in Catalonia until December 2021, a year later than originally planned.

While this will leave 2,525 employees in and around Barcelona jobless, unions believe that the final settlement conditions are better than initially expected.

Nissan announced its plan to close the factories in May 2020, after 40 years of operation in Catalonia.