In a heartbreaking U-turn, Nissan has confirmed that the new X-Trail originally planned for its Sunderland plant will in fact be made in Japan. In a letter issued to its workers, it said continued Brexit uncertainty is not helping firms to “plan for the future”. Back in 2016, Nissan said it would build the new model in the UK after “assurances” from the government. Unions described the news as “disappointing” and said they were “seriously concerned”. UK government said the decision was a “blow to the sector” but that no jobs would go as a result.
Nissan has made cars at Sunderland since 1986 and employs almost 7,000 people. Talking about its decision, Nissan said that since 2016 “the environment for the car industry in Europe has changed dramatically,” including “changing emissions regulations”. Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said the move was “devastating news for our city and the region.” She added, “The uncertainty around Brexit is always a factor now in any decisions made in manufacturing.” Labour leader Jeremy Corbynn said, “The Conservatives' botched negotiations and threat of a no-deal Brexit is causing uncertainty and damaging Britain's economy.”
UK's car industry has been suffering a major rough patch from quite some months. Job losses have been announced at Jaguar Land Rover and Ford, and the cancellation of Nissan's X-Trail investment at its Sunderland plant is just one of the latest disappointments. The industry is nervous about border taxes and customs delays disrupting its just-in-time model of manufacturing. Nissan has been clear the decision to cancel its Sunderland X-Trail investment is a commercial decision. But it chose to say “continued uncertainty” around the UK's future relationship with the EU “is not helping” it plan for the future.
Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said Nissan had “all sorts of problems that are nothing to do with Brexit” including “very considerable corporate governance problems” arising from ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn's arrest. Production of the Qashqai- the best-selling crossover vehicle in Europe, makes up the majority of the current work at Sunderland.