Nissan scraps plan to build new X-Trail model in Britain

Hugh Fox
February 5, 2019

"Unite will continue to press for further long-term guarantees over future investment and new models to secure the site's future for generations to come", said acting national officer for the automotive sector Steve Bush.

The letter, which was released by the United Kingdom government overnight, has always been the subject of speculation.

Sky News reported that a letter from the management to Sunderland's 7,000 factory staff said that the announcement would be "interepreted by a lot of people as a decision related to Brexit". "You can't blame Brexit for everything", said Ms Hartley-Brewer on TalkRadio this morning. And when Nissan announced that X-Trail production was moving to Sunderland there was a real expectation that it would be diesel-engined X-Trails churning out to fulfil demand.

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 Tory MP was responding to a caller called Terry, who had said: "It's turned into Project Fact, not Project Fear, isn't it?" So it probably makes more sense to continue production in Japan, rather than move it to the UK.

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In a letter to Sunderland employees, Nissan said the relentless "uncertainty" engendered by Brexit is not helping it to plan for the future.

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

So is it down to Brexit or not?

However, Nissan has now said it's made a decision to consolidate X-Trail production in Kyushu, Japan, which means it can reduce its upfront investment costs.

A senior Nissan boss blasted Brexit "uncertainty" as he confirmed that the company had scrapped plans to build the X-Trail 4x4 at its Sunderland plant, but said that the decision had been taken for "business reasons".

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But Nissan has also commented that "the environment for the auto industry in Europe has changed dramatically".

Sunderland is the largest vehicle plant in the United Kingdom and a source of employment for 6,700 people.

Consumers are now less likely to opt for the fuel type as they are anxious about additional costs and tougher rules.

Large auto manufacturers have been struggling with a huge slump in European diesel vehicle sales, a slowdown in Chinese purchases and a tough transition to a new EU emissions-testing system.

He said the money was not tied to X-Trail cars, but was linked to alternative technologies - developing electric cars and making sure the next generation of Qashqai cars could be electric.

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