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Nissan ‘set to abandon plans to build X-Trail model in Sunderland’ as Brexit uncertainty shakes UK car industry

Reports suggest Japanese firm may cancel intention to build vehicle in UK less than two months before Britain leaves EU

Saturday 02 February 2019 20:34
Technicians prepare doors at the company’s northeast plant
Technicians prepare doors at the company’s northeast plant

Japanese carmaker Nissan is set to abandon plans to build the X-Trail model at its Sunderland plant, according to reports.

The company is said to have performed a U-turn on its intention to build the car in the northeast less than two months before Britain is set to leave the European Union, amid increased Brexit uncertainty.

Nissan had previously voiced concerns about Brexit before the company finally committed to build the new Qashqai and X-Trail models in its Sunderland factory in October 2016, four months after the EU referendum.

The Japanese firm is now expected to stop its production of the X-Trail in Sunderland, but the move is not expected to have a major impact on jobs, according to Sky News, which first reported the story.

Bridget Phillipson, the MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, described the news as “deeply troubling”.

“If confirmed, this would represent deeply troubling news for the northeast economy,” she tweeted.

“So many jobs and livelihoods depend on Nissan’s success.”

Nissan refused to shed light on the situation. A spokesperson said: “Nissan does not comment on rumour or speculation.”

The Brexit-backing city of Sunderland is home to a Nissan plant, which has been active since 1986, employing almost 7,000 people and producing around 2,000 cars a day.

The reported decision by Nissan comes just weeks after a triple jobs blow in the UK car industry.

Earlier this month American car manufacturer Ford confirmed nearly 400 jobs would be lost at its engine manufacturing plant in Bridgend.

The company said the “voluntary separation programme” at the Welsh factory is needed to cut costs and create a “sustainably profitable business” in Europe.

The decision followed a similar move by Jaguar Land Rover to reduce its 44,000 workforce by 4,500 under plans to make £2.5bn of cost savings.

Japanese firm Honda also announced six non-production days in April under contingency plans to mitigate the risk of disruption to production at its Swindon factory after the UK leaves the EU.

Additional reporting from agencies

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