Nissan will cancel planned X-Trail production in Sunderland; Brexit woes combine with diesel anxiety in reversal of 2016 decision
Nissan is expected to announce on Monday it will not move production of its X-Trail SUV from Japan to Sunderland, reversing a decision made in 2016.
Five months after the 2016 referendum, Nissan received assurances from the British Government no additional tariffs or diplomatic red tape would be placed upon it as a result of the leave vote. Partly as a result of those assurances, the car maker committed to build the latest-generation Qashqai in Sunderland, and shift X-Trail production to the plant as well. Those decisions were seen as a pre-emptive vote of confidence in post-Brexit UK.
Sources speaking to Sky News, however, indicate Nissan will go back on the X-Trail decision, keeping its production in Asia – though the Qashqai, the smaller Juke SUV, and the electric Leaf will continue to be built at the Sunderland plant. No jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the X-Trail decision – though none are likely to be created, either.
Critics were quick to hold Nissan’s reported decision up as an example of the Brexit malaise said to be gripping car companies ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU on 29 March, but the true reasons behind it are likely to more numerous than Brexit alone.
Nissan produced 10.7 per cent fewer cars in the UK last year than they did in 2017, for example. The X-Trail is also a relatively large SUV and is well-paired with a diesel engine, however sales of diesel-engined cars declined by almost 30 per cent in 2018. Finally, while the Qashqai has been a huge success for its maker, the larger X-Trail far less common sight on UK roads.
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