Nissan abandons pledge to make SUV in United Kingdom, citing Brexit

Nissan 'U-turn' expected on new X-Trail SUV in Sunderland

Nissan Motor Co. abandoned a plan to make the X-Trail sport utility vehicle at a factory in northern Britain, saying uncertainty over Brexit isn't helping on future investment. "None of it is conductive to encouraging business investment in this country".

A letter from the chairman of Nissan Europe to Sunderland factory staff, which has been obtained by Sky News, confirmed the news and telling them the model will continue to be made in Japan.

The carmaker's planned investment in the next-generation Juke and Qashqai models, which was also announced in 2016, was unaffected, the firm said on Sunday.

It secured thousands of jobs in the Brexit-backing city, but prompted a volley of questions over whether a the Government had struck a deal to protect the manufacturer from any post-Brexit EU tariff wall.

Ministers strongly denied any financial incentives were offered and Chancellor Philip Hammond said any costs arising from the assurances would be small enough to be covered within the Department for Business's existing spending limits.

Nissan employs nearly 7,000 people at the plant, which has produced cars since 1986.

The factory builds the Qashqai and Juke SUVs, along with the Nissan Leaf and Infiniti's Q30 and QX30 models, according to the Automotive News Europe Guide to European Assembly Plants.

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Industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said leaving the European Union on March 29 without a transition deal to preserve the smooth flow of parts and finished vehicles across European Union borders would cause "permanent devastation" to the British auto industry.

British politicians have sharply criticized May's Brexit deal and voted it down in Parliament.

The comments came from Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, after the car-maker confirmed it has done a U-turn on a previous pledge to make the SUV in the UK.

It comes after Ford confirmed on Friday that it would be cutting around 370 jobs at its Bridgend plant as it restructures its production across Europe and the United Kingdom.

Japanese firm Honda also announced six non-production days in April under contingency plans to mitigate the risk of disruption to production at its Swindon factory after the United Kingdom leaves the EU. It said "the current workforce" in England would not be affected, leaving in doubt the additional jobs government and union officials had been counting on.

Investment in Britain's auto industry halved a year ago, data showed last Thursday, and vehicle production by Nissan in Britain fell by more than 10 per cent.

Nissan said: "The company has chose to optimise its investments in Europe by consolidating X-Trail production in Kyushu, the production hub for this global model".

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