Nissan has pulled a controversial U-turn and pulled the next X-Trail from its production plans in the UK. The company had committed in 2016 to building the seven-seater SUV in its Sunderland factory in the north-east، but it wrote to staff at the weekend admitting it would no longer manufacture the X-Trail in Britain.
The model will now be made in Kyushu، Japan instead and Nissan admitted in the letter that Brexit was damaging its long-term investment plans. It said 'the environment for the car industry in Europe has changed dramatically' since the original decision in 2016.
Unions representing the 7000 staff employed in Sunderland reacted angrily to the news. Read on to find out how other car makers are reacting to Brexit.
How could a no-deal Brexit cripple UK car production?
The UK’s automotive industry is under serious threat from the ‘wrong’ Brexit. So what could happen to car companies، to dealers and to the cars we buy when we exit the EU on Friday 29 March 2019?
Brexit and the UK car industry
Right now، unless the government somehow appeases everyone and scores a great deal from the EU، it’s looking pretty gloomy، especially for the 856،000 employed in the business across the UK.
UK car manufacturers like borderless trading with the EU. Their web of supplier networks across Europe involves an estimated 1100 trucks crossing the Channel each day، bringing parts straight to the assembly line at factories in Sunderland، Cowley، Halewood، Swindon or one of the other 32 vehicle manufacturing plants in the UK. It’s a delicate operation that any border stoppages would disrupt in a major way.
A no-deal withdrawal will mean no transition period. That’ll throw sand into the slick parts delivery system from Europe and could stop production lines dead. ‘It’s becoming more and more difficult to justify investment in the UK because of the uncertainty،’ Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth (below) told CAR at the Paris motor show.
‘Every day we build around 3000 cars in the UK. That’s about 25 million parts. If we miss just one part، we cannot build a vehicle… and stopped production will cost us £60m a day.
How angry are car company bosses?
Very. After the vote in 2016، car companies were sanguine، saying they respected the wishes of the people and would await the outcome of negotiations. Two years on and faced with the ‘total ineptitude’ of the government negotiators، as one analyst put it، the usually mild CEOs are baring their teeth.
‘Hard Brexit is a red line،’ Steve Armstrong، CEO of Ford of Europe، said in a recent statement. ‘It could severely damage the UK’s competitiveness and result in a significant threat to much of the auto industry، including our own UK manufacturing operations.’ He hinted that could mean shutting down its two engine plants (Bridgend and Dagenham). ‘We will take whatever action is necessary to protect our business in the event of a hard Brexit.