Crossover coup: Nissan commits to UK manufacturing post-Brexit

Published: 27 October 2016

► Nissan commits to UK manufacturing
► Qashqai, Juke to stay - plus X-Trail
► Seen as fillip for UK plc

Nissan today announced a major boost to Great Britain's car manufacturing industry – it confirmed that production of the next Qashqai and Juke would remain in Sunderland.

Furthermore, it also confirmed that the X-Trail would switch to the north-east plant, one of the most efficient in Europe. The X-Trail is currently made only in Japan and Russia.

No timeframe has been put on the X-Trail's switch to England; we anticipate it'll be with the next generation later this decade, making Sunderland Nissan's European crossover hub.

Brexit blues?

The move is significant, since the UK's vote to leave the EU was seen as a threat to manufacturing. The pound has already devalued against the Euro and dollar, making it more expensive to build here for car makers headquartered outside Britain.

However, many products exported from the UK have benefited from the currency movements.

Nissan Qashqai

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn had warned at the 2016 Paris motor show that the Brexit vote could place the Sunderland operation's long-term viability into question. He is, however, an arch tactician and it seems that the Government's assurances have saved the day.

What will the UK Government offer to Nissan?

The Government has declined to specify the details of its support; Ghosn had wanted assurances there would be compensation for any tariffs imposed on UK-built cars post-Brexit. 

Colin Lawther, a senior Nissan Europe official, told the BBC Nissan had received 'no special deal... We would expect nothing for us that the rest of the industry wouldn't be able to have access to. We see this as a whole industry thing, not a Nissan thing.'

Carlos Ghosn on the UK decision

'The support and assurances of the UK Government enabled us to decide that the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail will be produced at Sunderland,' said Ghosn. 'I welcome British Prime Minister Theresa May’s commitment to the automotive industry in Britain and to the development of an overall industrial strategy.'

Nissan is the biggest car maker in the UK, 7000 staff producing one in three new cars built in Britain every year. It has built 9 million cars in Sunderland and invested £3.7 billion in the plant since 1986. Moreover, a further 28,000 jobs are supported in the UK supply chain.

It's been a decent week for UK plc. Economic growth in the three months after the Brexit vote rose by 0.5%, beating analysts' expectations of 0.3%. And manufacturing specialists The Solution Automotive Recruitment reported an increase in the number of workers hired by the car-making sector. MD Dan Eyre told CAR: 'There has already been a 10% uplift since the decision to leave the EU, with 25% of this increase being on "we need them now" basis.'

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By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet