Government ministers are considering, withdrawing the £60m support package, after Nissan pledged to keep production in in the UK following the EU withdrawal, the Times newspaper reported. Four months after the EU referendum in 2016, the Japanese car maker announced that the Sunderland plant would be making the new X-Trail.
Gianluca de Ficchy, Nissan’s senior vice president and chairman of the management committee for Europe, wrote to the Sunderland factory on Sunday morning.
De Ficchy said, “At that time they were both planned as ‘traditional’ models, powered by internal combustion engines. X-Trail was already going to be made in Kyushu, but there was a good business case for bringing production to Europe as well.
“Since that time, as you know, the environment for the car industry in Europe has changed dramatically. To meet the changing emissions regulations we’ve had to invest much more in new powertrains for our future models like X-Trail. At the same time, the volume forecasts for X-Trail in Europe have reduced.
“For those reasons the company has decided to optimise our investments and concentrate production in Kyushu, instead of adding another production site. For the European business, this does not change the fact that X-Trail is – and will continue to be – a crucial model for us.
“Today’s announcement will be interpreted by a lot of people as a decision related to Brexit. We have taken this decision for the business reasons I’ve explained, but clearly the uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future.
“With the UK’s departure from the EU on March 29 getting closer every week, we have a taskforce in place, reporting to me, that is considering all of the possible scenarios and the potential impact on the business.
“As a responsible business with 16,000 employees in the region, I want you to know that we are preparing across all functions, and with our supply chain, for anything that might impact our current business model. When the time comes to initiate any of those plans, we will be ready, and we will communicate with full transparency to all of you.”