BARCELONA -- Nissan has estimated the closure of its operations in Barcelona could cost up to around 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), a union source told Reuters on Monday.
The cost of the closure is at the heart of a debate in Spain over the move, with the government saying it would be cheaper to keep operations running.
A Nissan spokesman declined to comment.
The decision to leave Barcelona was announced by the automaker last week as part of a turnaround plan, triggering protests by workers and a commitment by Madrid to do all it can to convince the company to stay.
Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper earlier on Monday cited Nissan documents as saying the closures could cost 1.45 billion euros, mostly in payouts to the roughly 3,000 workers who will lose their jobs.
The Barcelona factory has been operating since the 1980s. It builds pickups and vans.
Nissan plans to relocate production of the Navara pickup to South Africa, while a replacement for the e-NV200 van would be built at Renault's plant in Maubeuge, France, reports have said.
The union source said that a few weeks ago Nissan had told workers that shutting operations could cost around 1.5 billion euros.
On May 28, the day the shutdown was announced, a Nissan executive told workers the cost could be much lower, at 700-800 million euros, the source said.
However, the source, along with another senior union official, said the second estimate was probably unrealistic as that would barely cover payments to workers, some of whom have been employed for more than 20 years.
On top of that, Nissan would face other costs related to suppliers and dismantling factories, the first source said, adding: "1.5 billion euros is more realistic. It's not easy to dismantle a factory."
La Vanguardia said that among the costs Nissan had estimated were 600 million euros for firing workers, 310 million euros in fiscal costs and potentially repaying 100 million euros of public aid.
Nissan believes it would take close to seven years to recover in savings the cost of leaving Barcelona, the newspaper said.