Sunderland leader calls for action to protect automotive sector

The leader of Sunderland City Council has called on the Government to do ‘everything in its power’ to secure the future of the UK automotive industry, following the news that Nissan will be moving production of one of its new vehicles to Japan.

The car manufacturer confirmed over the weekend that it is to shift production of its new X-Trail car to Japan, which was originally due to be built at its plant in Sunderland.

Although it also stressed that other future models planned for Nissan Sunderland plant – the next-generation Juke and Qashqai – remain unaffected.

Nissan is the UK’s biggest car plant, employing 7,000 people, with a further 30,000 jobs in its UK supply chain and 4,000 in its UK dealer network, taking the total number of British jobs supported by Nissan to more than 40,000.

The chairman of Nissan Europe, Gianluca de Ficchy said: ‘We appreciate this will be disappointing for our UK team and partners. Our workforce in Sunderland has our full confidence, and will continue to benefit from the investment planned for Juke and Qashqai.

‘While we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future,’ added the chairman.

Responding to the announcement, Sunderland City Council leader, Cllr Graeme Miller said ‘anything that affects longer term investment in the plant is obviously a cause for concern’.

‘Although Nissan says it has taken the move to consolidate and produce the X-Trail in Japan for business reasons, it has also pointed to the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU as not being helpful,’ said Cllr Miller.

‘Nissan is not the only car manufacturer or major multinational to be reconsidering its investment in the UK in the face of continued uncertainty around Brexit. Over the last few weeks we have seen similar moves from a string of car makers and large businesses, especially with regard to continued free movement of components within the same industries,’ added Cllr Miller.

‘That is why of Nissan and rest of the UK automotive industry,’ added the council leader.

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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