Tuesday, August 16

From the Ford T to the last Nissan Navara: the end of Motor Ibérica after 101 years in Spain

  • The company began its history in 1920 in Cádiz, in 1923 it arrived in Barcelona, ​​in 1967 it moved to Zona Franca and in 1980 Nissan became a shareholder.

  • A white Navara was the last vehicle that Nissan Motor Ibérica has produced in Spain before the plant closes its doors on December 31.

The workers of Nissan have tightened this Thursday, December 16 the last screw in the Free Zone plant. The latest model assembled in the historic Barcelona factory has been that of a Nissan Navara, 101 years after the embryo of the current Catalan factory began its journey in Spain, 54 years after it began to produce in the Zona Franca and 41 years since it did so under the name of Nissan.

It was the year 1920 when Ford arrived in Spain. But what does Ford have to do with Nissan in this story? In 1920, the Michigan firm built a production facility in Cádiz. The first models of the company in the country would be manufactured there. Only three years later, the oval brand moved to Barcelona, ​​at 149 Avenida Icaria del Poblenou.

In the neighborhood of the Catalan city, Ford had an assembly line that served to reduce taxes on your vehicles and thus be able to sell them at a more affordable cost, since the Government at that time, led by Primo de Rivera, saved taxes on cars manufactured in the country. In Barcelona, Ford Motor Ibérica would produce models such as Model A, Model Y or 8HP until the start of the Civil War. After the conflict, it would go on to manufacture the Ebro brand trucks. In 1954, the company was nationalized, changing its name to Iberian motor.

The arrival of Nissan

In Poblenou he continued riding vehicles until 1967, when he left the crowded Barcelona neighborhood to move to the Free Trade Zone, in a new plant that will close after 54 years on December 31. In 1980, after 60 years operating as Motor Ibérica, Nissan acquired a stake in the company.

That’s when he was born Nissan Motor Iberica, which came to Barcelona to manufacture SUVs, becoming the first factory of this type of vehicle for the Japanese brand in Europe. In 1981, still without having started to assemble their cars, Nissan showed the off-road vehicle for the first time in Spain Patrol at the Barcelona Salon. Although this news would later be confirmed, it was in the Catalan sample where the brand announced the possibility of manufacturing it in the city. Since then, many vehicles of this type have left with the banner of the Japanese company, and also with the logo of other brands, on the door of its facilities in the Free Trade Zone.

It took two years (1983) until Nissan started manufacturing the Patrol in the Free Trade Zone. In total they were 26 years those that Nissan dedicated to the manufacture of the Patrol, definitively ceasing the assembly of one of the most popular SUVs in history in 2009. In fact, in the late 80s, one in three SUVs sold in the country was a Patrol.

ATV factory

In the Free Trade Zone it was also manufactured in exclusively for Europe the Terrano II It was followed by Pathfinder. Its second and third generation would be assembled from this SUV in Barcelona, ​​coming hand in hand with the pick-up Navara, manufactured both from the mid-90s to 2015, leaving a balance of 400,000 units for the pick-up and 173,000 for the 4 × 4. The Navara, in its next generation, would continue in Barcelona with the Renault Alaskan and the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, with whom it shares a platform. These are the latest models, along with the eNV200, which Nissan has manufactured in the Catalan capital. The Navara has been the last to get off the assembly line.

Already with competitiveness problems, the Nissan plant in Barcelona managed to achieve the production of two more models, the eNV200, its electric van, and the Pulsar, the brand’s compact, which was discontinued in 2018 after four years on the assembly lines of the Free Trade Zone. It was a model designed to compete with the big boys in Europe, but its demand was always below what was expected of the car.

Workers’ struggle between engines

The history of Nissan and the Iberian Motor has also been a history marked by union conflicts. The motor industry is fertile ground for unions to organize and for the last 100 years strikes and work stoppages have occurred. Some to get salary improvements, others to avoid layoffs and the most recent to fight for an industrial future beyond the Nissan logo.

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Total, more than 3.7 million cars have left the Free Trade Zone since Nissan arrived in Spain. In addition to the aforementioned models, vans such as the Vanette, the Primastar or the Evalia were also produced, as well as vehicles from other brands such as the Renault Traffic and the Opel Vivaro. Today closes production a facility with 517,000 square meters who came to have a daily production of 630 vehicles. From this Thursday it will no longer manufacture. Sad full stop.


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