Nissan has reversed a decision to build the new X-Trail model at its Sunderland facility.
The Japanese car manufacturer had announced in 2016 that it intended to bring production of the X-Trail and Qashqai to Sunderland, the UK’s largest car manufacturing facility.
Although Gianluca de Ficchy, senior vice president and chairman of the management committee for Nissan in Europe, concedes that it’s a decision people may interpret as related to Brexit, he noted in a letter to employees that it was based on business reasons.
Changes in emissions regulations have meant that Nissan has had to invest heavily in making the X-Trail’s Renault-sourced diesel engines compliant. The low volumes, and even lower volume forecasts, for X-Trail in Europe means that it may no longer be viable to make the diesel models at all. Nissan currently makes the X-Trail’s MR petrol engine in Yokohama.
As de Ficchy explains:
“To meet the changing emissions regulations we’ve had to invest much more in new powertrains for our future models like X-Trail. At the same time, the volume forecasts for X-Trail in Europe have reduced.
“For those reasons the company has decided to optimise our investments and concentrate production in Kyushu, instead of adding another production site. For the European business, this does not change the fact that X-Trail is – and will continue to be – a crucial model for us.”
The decision doesn’t directly impact any current jobs at Sunderland, and Nissan is still planning to produce new versions of the Qashqai and Juke at the facility following heavy investment.