UK automotive industry boosted by Nissan's decision to build new models in UK

Updated: 


Thousands of jobs in the UK Automotive industry have had a massive boost after Nissan pledged to build two of its next generation models at its Sunderland plant.

The Japanese manufacturer, which is the second largest in Britain, made the announcement following talks between Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn and Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street last month.

Of the 78,000 jobs dependent on British-based vehicle manufacturers, 28,000 are supported by Nissan. Should the carmaker have chosen to leave Britain following the Brexit decision, these jobs could have potentially been at risk.

However, the announcement that production of the next-generation Qashqai as well as the new X-Trail, currently produced in Japan, will be brought to Britain has not only provided confidence to invest for existing UK-based companies, but will hopefully also act as an incentive to companies not yet operating in the UK.

Mike Matthews, managing director of Stockton-on-Tees-based Nifco, a plastic component supplier to major automotive manufacturers, commented: "This news sends a strong message that the UK is an attractive investment choice for all vehicle manufacturers.

"Though we supply many leading brands, 25 per cent of our total sales go to Nissan and the decision to invest in Sunderland safeguards our 650 employees.

"It is exciting that the new X-Trail will be manufactured here as this presents new opportunities for us to win work supplying components to make it – I am delighted."

While the announcement bodes well for industry growth, it has highlighted the skills shortage. According to the Automotive Council, up to 5,000 vacancies exist in UK automotive manufacturing.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, added: "Nissan's announcement is good news for the UK automotive and supply chain jobs, confirming Britain as a leader in automotive production.

"It is important government makes it a priority to safeguard the competitiveness of this important sector as we leave the EU.

"This means maintaining a competitive business environment, ensuring talent can be recruited from abroad and securing the benefits we currently enjoy in the single market – including tariff-free trade unhindered by any customs bureaucracy."