Nissan bosses have delivered a vote of confidence in UK car making by announcing that the Sunderland plant will become the hub for production of core models for Europe – securing thousands of jobs in the North East – after confirming the closure of two other factories.
The Japanese firm will close plants in Spain and Indonesia, as it sank into the red for the first time in 11 years after the coronavirus pandemic sent global demand plunging and halted production. Workers have been protesting outside the factory in Barcelona on Thursday.
Nissan’s chief executive Makoto Uchida said production in Europe will be centered at the British plant, as the brand reduces its global production and number of model offerings by 20 per cent by 2023.
Safety net for Sunderland: Nissan bosses on Thursday announced the closure of its car factory in Spain with core model production now due to be centred at the UK plant
Reports emerged earlier this month that some Renault models – namely the Captur and Kadjar SUVs – that are currently built in other countries could be shifted to Sunderland as bosses look to improve efficiency between the alliance.
Renault owns just over 40 per cent of Nissan’s shares, and the two companies operate a strategic alliance of their respective production facilities.
Stephen Ma, Nissan chief finance officer, said: ‘In western Europe, we will maintain production of core models in Sunderland and maintain efficiency.’
The positive news for Sunderland follows a time of uncertainty for the North East factory, which has been under threat in recent years.
This was accelerated by an announcement in February 2019 that plans to manufacture the next-generation X-Trail SUV at Sunderland had been scrapped in favour of production in Japan.
The UK factory, which is the biggest single car-making facility in the country and employs around 6,000 workers, currently makes the Qashqai and Juke SUVs and the Leaf electric model. It also produces a small output of Infinti…