Brexit blamed for Nissan's decision to move SUV production to Japan

Tuesday, 05 Feb, 2019

Nissan employs about 7,000 workers in the English city of Sunderland.

He said the European vehicle industry had "changed dramatically" since 2016, when the Japanese company announced plans to build a new Qashqai and X-Trail in the UK.

Nissan has confirmed that it's axeing plans to move production of the next-gen X-Trail for the European market to Sunderland as it says that Brexit uncertainty has had a hand in the decision.

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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.

Less than two months before Britain's scheduled withdrawal date, the government doesn't have an approved agreement on the rules, conditions and terms that will replace the 45 years of frictionless trade that came with being an European Union member.

In 2016, the carmaker said it would build the new model in the United Kingdom after "assurances" from the government.

Mr Turner said it is "beyond disappointing" that Unite members heard about their futures and the holding back of planned Sunderland investments through the media and not directly from the company.

Nissan said the move does not affect production of the next-generation Juke and Qashqai, due 2019 and 2020 respectively, which will continue to be produced in Sunderland. 'This represents a serious blow to the communities that depend on the jobs Nissan creates and supports, ' Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party's Brexit spokesman, wrote on Twitter.

"The letter, written in October 2016, shows Nissan and the UK Government's continued desire to support investment in the UK and maintain Sunderland as one of Nissan's manufacturing hubs in Europe", the company said on Monday. To support this we are taking advantage of our global assets, and with X-Trail already manufactured in Japan, we can reduce our upfront investment costs.

Current production in Sunderland also includes the Nissan LEAF, which is Europe's best-selling electric vehicle.

"Nissan's announcement is a blow to the sector and the region, as this was to be a further significant expansion of the site and the workforce", Business Secretary Greg Clark said.

Production of diesel cars was down by 22% to 561,000 previous year.

The UK government is warning that Brexit negotiations are likely to go down to the wire, with the threat of a chaotic no-deal split casting a shadow over businesses right up to next month's deadline.

Earlier this month American auto manufacturer Ford confirmed almost 400 jobs would be lost at its engine manufacturing plant in Bridgend. JLR, Honda and BMW have all announced plans to idle their factories in the days after Britain is set to leave the European Union in hopes of avoiding potential chaos at the borders.