Boost for North East as Nissan shifts European operations to Sunderland

Nissan’s European car making operations will be centred at its plant in Sunderland going forward.

The announcement will come as welcome news for the North East factory, safeguarding 7,000 jobs at Nissan, and a further 20,000 jobs with suppliers in the region.

The decision comes as Nissan, alongside all car manufacturers, struggles to balance the books amid falling sales and rising losses, driven by both the virus and public concern and uncertainty surrounding petrol and, to a greater extent, diesel,.

Indeed, the Japanese car giant announced on Thursday that it had slipped into the red for the first time in more than a decade, as it revealed a £5bn ($6.2bn) net loss in the last financial year.

While the decision will help secure thousands of UK jobs, two of Nissan’s other facilities will close as a result. Plants in Spain and Indonesia will cease production as part of Nissan’s global restructuring programme, resulting in job losses in both countries.

Good news for Nissan’s British workers and motorists alike

Nissan’s Sunderland factory is the UK’s largest automotive plant, and the most productive in Europe, producing more cars per worker than any other plant.

The facility currently produces the Qashqai and Juke SUV models, as well as the Leaf electric model. There has also been speculation that Renault — which owns just over 40% of Nissan’s shares — could also switch some production to the Sunderland site in the future.

The North East plant is expected to resume operations in June, after production was paused in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This new announcement will further ease many workers’ minds following several months of confusion and uncertainty.

A spokesperson for Nissan commented: “Sunderland remains an important part of our plans for the European business. The new Juke was recently launched, and the plant is now preparing for the arrival of the new Qashqai.”

As well as providing a boost for workers, the news will also be pleasing for British motorists as it could lead to more affordable, home-built cars going forward.

Reports have previously suggested that consumers would foot a 10% import tariff being introduced for new EU cars being shipped to the UK from 2021 under Brexit proposals.


Reporting by James Devonshire