Nissan Motor Co. is weighing options about the future of its two plants in Europe as the automaker faces declining sales in the region and an industry shift to electric cars, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
The automaker, which in March said it will stop selling the upscale Infiniti brand in Western Europe, is gauging interest from potential buyers for its factories in the UK and Spain, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.
Divesting one or both facilities is an option as Nissan's market share in the region has plummeted. While no decisions have been made, potential buyers could include Chinese automakers, the people said.
A European retreat would demonstrate the breadth of measures under consideration to curb costs and address a dramatic slide in earnings since former Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested last year on charges of financial crimes.
Profit at Nissan fell to almost zero in the first half of the year, giving Makoto Uchida, the incoming CEO, an uphill battle as he seeks to stabilize operations while patching up the strained relationship with alliance partner Renault.
"At this time, we have no plan to sell those two plants in Europe," said Azusa Momose, a spokeswoman at Nissan.
Nissan, which said in July that it plans to shed 12,500 jobs globally, aims to focus on its home market, as well as China and the U.S., the people said. Its market share in Europe has slid to just 2.5 percent through September amid a slump in sales.
The fall of Ghosn, who denies the allegations, has roiled Nissan's relationship with Renault, its top shareholder, at a time of slowing industry sales and a costly shift to electric cars.
Like other automakers, Nissan is under pressure from European regulators to roll out zero-emission vehicles that comply with new rules meant to cut pollutants.
Nissan is considering importing combustion cars from Japan as trade barriers with the European Union fall away and focusing its manufacturing activity in the region on electric models such as the Leaf, according to the people.
Doing so would reduce the need for vast factories in Europe because the process for making electric cars is simpler, with fewer parts and requirements for space and machinery.
Nissan plans to cut the number of money-losing models, including those from the small-car Datsun brand and other compact cars, one of the people said, as it turns away from Ghosn's growth strategies.
Reuters reported Wednesday the Datsun nameplate faces elimination.
Nissan has already announced some cutbacks in Europe, including plans to shed 600 jobs at its Barcelona plant, where about 3,000 people work. The facility is running below capacity of about 200,000 vehicles annually, the people said.
In February, Nissan abandoned plans to make the X-Trail utility vehicle at its Sunderland, UK, facility, citing uncertainty around Brexit.
Brexit-induced tariffs on auto exports to the European Union will probably render Nissan's UK operations nonviable, the company has warned.
The Sunderland plant, the UK's largest, would be harder to shutter. Last year it produced 450,000 cars, sending 70 percent of its output to the EU. It unveiled a new version of its Juke crossover, aimed at the European market, earlier this month. The same platform is being used by Renault to assemble the latest versions of the Clio supermini and Captur crossover, built across the Channel in France.
Questions also hang over the future of Nissan's Micra small car, which is assembled at Renault's Flins plant near Paris. The factory, which also makes Renault's electric Zoe, is expected to build just over 50,000 Micras this year, well below an initial 82,000-vehicle target, two of the people said. Nissan has not committed to making another vehicle at the factory in the future.
A spokesman for Renault declined to comment on Nissan's plants for Flins.