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Toyota and Nissan to seek EU certification outside UK

Brexit prompts automakers to ensure cars remain eligible for sale throughout bloc

Toyota is discussing plans to suspend operations at its plant in Burnaston, central England, around the time of Brexit next March.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese automakers are making concrete preparations for Brexit, with Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor planning to obtain vehicle certification in other EU countries to ensure they remain eligible for sale in the rest of the bloc after U.K.'s departure.

Both companies currently have their vehicles certified in the U.K., as EU rules state that certification obtained one member country is valid throughout the bloc. Brexit threatens to invalidate certificates obtained in the U.K. on vehicles destined for the rest of the EU.

Toyota is discussing plans to suspend operations at its plant in Burnaston, central England, around the time of Brexit next March, to avoid confusion regarding component procurement, Toyota's European subsidiary told local media.

Talks between the EU and the U.K. have been strained, raising uncertainty for Japanese companies operating in Europe regarding issues such as customs clearance.

Automakers are required to ensure their vehicles are certified by clearing standards in areas such as safety and fuel efficiency before they can be authorized for sale within the bloc. 

Manufacturers are preparing for the possibility of certification obtained on one side of the Strait of Dover becoming invalid on the other. Toyota plans to apply for vehicle certification in Belgium, where it has its European headquarters, for models already certified in Britain.

Japanese companies operating plants in the U.K. include Toyota, Nissan and Honda Motor, which together manufactured about 800,000 vehicles there in 2017. Toyota and Nissan both exported about 80% of their British production to elsewhere in the EU, while the figure for Honda stood at about 30%.

Nissan, which operates Britain's largest plant assembling finished vehicles, has announced plans to start manufacturing models to be introduced from 2020, but it may be forced to suspend them if Brexit negotiations bring about a less favorable situation.

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