Qashqai and X-Trail boost for Sunderland Nissan plant

Updated: 

Nissan has given a double boost to workers at its Sunderland factory, opting to build its next-generation Qashqai and add production of the new X-Trail model.

There had been concerns about the future of the car giant's plant in the North East after the UK leaves the European Union.

The news, which will secure thousands of jobs, is the first major UK automotive decision since the Brexit vote in June.

Building the X-Trail in Sunderland is an unexpected boost to the factory.

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn went to Downing Street earlier this month for crunch talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

He said on Thursday: "I am pleased to announce that Nissan will continue to invest in Sunderland.

"Our employees there continue to make the plant a globally competitive powerhouse, producing high-quality, high-value products every day."

Keeping Nissan in the UK was regarded as vital to Mrs May's hopes for a successful Brexit.

She said: "This is fantastic news for the UK. Nissan is at the heart of this country's strong automotive industry and so I welcome their decision to produce the Qashqai and a new model at their Sunderland plant.

"It is a recognition that the Government is committed to creating and supporting the right conditions for the automotive industry so it continues to grow - now and in the future.

"This vote of confidence shows Britain is open for business and that we remain an outward-looking, world-leading nation.

"The Government will continue to work closely with employers and investors in creating a global Britain, a country where there are new opportunities for jobs and rewarding careers.

"Families across the North East will be delighted at this news today and I share in their enthusiasm for what this means not just for them, but for the whole of the UK."

The Sunderland plant, which has been active since 1986, employs almost 7,000 people, producing around 2,000 cars a day.

Nissan is part-owned by French manufacturer Renault, raising concerns that production could be moved to France to avoid any tariffs which might be introduced on exports to the EU if the UK leaves the single market in a so-called "hard Brexit".

Mr Ghosn added: "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.

"I welcome British Prime Minister Theresa May's commitment to the automotive industry in Britain and to the development of an overall industrial strategy."

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "The UK automotive sector has had a remarkable year - exporting over one million cars around the world and today's announcement underlines the confidence in the sector. 

"The fact Nissan have not only made a long-term commitment to build the next generation Qashqai and X-Trail at Sunderland, but decided to upgrade their factory to a super-plant, manufacturing over 600,000 cars a year, is proof of the strength of the sector."