Japan's Nissan abandons plans of X-Trail model in UK

Reuters

Back in 2016, Nissan thought it made good business sense to manufacture the X-Trail in both Sunderland and Kyushu (Japan), particularly after the United Kingdom gave it "reassurances" about life post-Brexit, but that's no longer the case. The company, however, took pains to assure the plant's 7,000 employees none of them would be fired due to the modified production arrangement. Sharon Hodgson, the MP for Washington and Sunderland West, remembers the rush of optimism when Nissan arrived in the 80s, bringing hope to a region of closing mines and stalled shipbuilding.

In 2016, Nissan announced plans to build the new X-Trail in the United Kingdom after receiving positive assurances from the government.

The Sunderland plant, which has been active since 1986, employs nearly 7,000 people and produces around 2,000 cars a day. This is no longer the case.

But the company also said the "continued uncertainty around the UK's future relationship with the European Union is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future", prompting renewed fears among some in Britain that Brexit was hitting the economy.

He cited changing regulations in emissions and reduced sales forecasts in the decision "to optimise our investments and concentrate production in Kyushu". Along with the Qashqai and Juke, the plant makes two versions of the Infiniti and the Leaf electric vehicle. "We recognise that the United Kingdom has a stake, and we are backing your continued success in Sunderland to the hilt". Nissan also confirms Sunderland will still build the next-generation Qashqai and Juke.

The company blamed wider industry pressures but added that Brexit "uncertainty" was not helping it to plan for the future.

Prime Minister Theresa May was gathering pro-Brexit and pro-EU Conservative lawmakers into an "alternative arrangements working group" seeking to break Britain's Brexit deadlock. The loss of X-Trail production puts the long-term future of the Washington plant in doubt and the additional jobs that would have been created by building the SUV will not arrive on Wearside anymore.

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Sky News, quoting unnamed sources, said that Nissan's executives may confirm the cancellation of plans next Monday, which will cast further gloom over an already-embattled sector amid Brexit uncertainty. For example, diesel cars made in the United Kingdom that fail to meet the latest European Union emissions standards now have to pay hefty fines. With the collapse in diesel sales there are doubts about the volume of exports Nissan will achieve, but the existence of this trade deal does present the United Kingdom with a challenge.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said "the downturn in the diesel market is what is being blamed" for the decision.

But she added that "snide remarks" about Sunderland, a strong Leave area in the 2016 referendum, are unhelpful and "insulting".

The vehicle manufacturer confirmed over the weekend that it is to shift production of its new X-Trail auto to Japan, which was originally due to be built at its plant in Sunderland.

'So many jobs and livelihoods depend on Nissan's success'.

She said she would update constituents with information once she finds out more, and that "we must await official announcement from Nissan for the plans".

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