Sunderland’s Nissan plant will become the hub for the production of core models, securing thousands of jobs in the North-East.

The car giant has delivered the vote of confidence in the Sunderland factory after confirming the closure of two other factories min Barcelona and Indonesia.

The coronavirus pandemic has sent global demand plunging and halted production, forcing Nissan into the red for the first time in 11 years.

The company’s chief executive Makoto Unhid said production in Europe will be concentrated at the Sunderland plant, as the brand reduces its global production and number of model offerings by 20 per cent by 2023.

Reports earlier this month suggested some Renault models, particularly the Captur and Kadjar SUVs could be moved from other plants to the North East factory which employs more than 6,000 people.

Renault owns just over 40 per cent of Nissan’s shares, and the two companies operate a strategic alliance of their respective production facilities.

Stephen Ma, Nissan chief finance officer, said: “In western Europe, we will maintain production of core models in Sunderland and maintain efficiency.”

The good news for Sunderland, which has been under threat in recent years, followed an announcement last year that plans to manufacture the next-generation X-Trail SUV at Sunderland had been scrapped in favour of production in Japan.

The UK factory, which is the biggest single car-making facility in the country, currently makes the Qashqai and Juke SUVs and the Leaf electric model. It also produces a small output of Infinti models.

It is the second largest vehicle producer in Britain behind Jaguar Land Rover, churning out 346,535 new cars in 2019. That was a decline in outputs of 22 per cent on the year previous.

The plant has been closed since the middle of March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and will not be restarting production until next month.

The phased return of manufacturing in Sunderland will start on Monday 8 June, more than a month after Rolls-Royce restarted production.

The news comes at the expense of Nissan’s Spanish manufacturing plants in the northeastern Catalonia region, which is predicted to result in the loss of some 3,000 direct jobs in the area.

On Thursday the Japanese carmaker announced it would shut it from December as part of a global restructuring plan to slash costs. Workers’ unions have warned that 20,000 more jobs in Nissan’s local supply chain would also be threatened if the company closed its car manufacturing plant in Barcelona and two smaller factories in nearby towns.

Meanwhile the Nissan Motor Company reported a 671.2billion yen ($6.2billion) loss for the fiscal year ended in March, its first annual loss since the aftermath of the financial crisis in the year ending in March 2009. Yokohama-based Nissan had recorded a 319.1billion yen profit the previous fiscal year through March 2019.

 

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