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Sunderland plant to be home of Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai production

By raccars Published

X-trial

Nissan confirms UK future after gaining ‘support and assurances’ from Government

Nissan has pledged to build the new X-Trail SUV and the new Qashqai at the company’s plant in Sunderland after apparently being won over by "support and assurances" from the Government.

There were concerns that the Japanese manufacturer could stop production at the UK’s largest car plant after Britain’s vote to leave the EU. Greg Clark, the UK’s business secretary, has denied that Nissan has been offered financial compensation to persuade it to stay, however, saying that there was "no question" of this being the case.

Colin Lawther, a Nissan Europe senior executive, has also denied that the company has received a special deal. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has called for the Government to reveal publicly any deals which it struck with the company.

Nissan commitment is more good news

Nissan’s decision came as Britain’s economic growth rose faster than expected. Analysts had estimated that it would grow by around 0.3 per cent in the three months following the Brexit vote but the figure actually reached 0.5 per cent. Although this was less than the 0.7 per cent experienced during the quarter before, the figures still confounded expectations.

Nissan’s commitment to the Sunderland plant is the first piece of major good news for Britain’s car industry in the period since the public voted to leave the EU and will secure 7,000 jobs. Nissan’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn, confirmed that the support and assurances offered by the Government had been influential in persuading the company that the next-generation Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai should be built in Sunderland.

Ghosn added that he welcomed the commitment of Theresa May, the prime minimiser, to Britain’s automotive industry. He had warned last month that Nissan could be prevented from investing in the plant at Sunderland if the Government couldn’t guarantee that compensation would be available for any costs relating to new trade tariffs as a result of the Britain’s departure from the EU.

"Fantastic news" says May

Theresa May welcomed the announcement from Nissan, calling it "fantastic news" and a "vote of confidence" which demonstrated that the country is undoubtedly open for business. Business secretary Clark said that Nissan’s decision and its commitment to upgrading the Sunderland factory to create a super-plant to build more than 600,000 cars each year acted as proof of the sector’s strength.

Lawther said that Nissan had been won over by the Government’s commitment to working with the automotive industry to ensure that the sector remains competitive. He said that the company did not expect special treatment and saw the Government’s assurances as relating to the entire industry and not just "a Nissan thing."

New jobs to be created

Another Nissan spokesperson said that hundreds of extra jobs could be created over the coming years as a result of the work at Sunderland. Current workers were stopped from working on the production line so they could be told of Nissan’s decision. The move means that the X-Trail will be built outside Japan for the first time ever.

The news that Sunderland will become the production facility for the X-Trail SUV was an unexpected development for the plant, which builds almost a third of all cars made in Britain. Last year 475,000 vehicles were produced at the factory and 80 per cent of these were exported.

The plant in Sunderland opened its doors in 1986 and, since then, has made almost nine million cars. The new Nissan Qashqai model is expected to join the factory’s production line-up in 2018 or 2019.

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