Nissan has decided to end the production of two of its Infiniti cars at Sunderland
Nissan will stop production of its Infiniti model at Sunderland, northeast England, as part of its global restructuring, the Japanese carmaker said on Tuesday.
As part of a bigger plan, and partially attributed to brexit, the automobile giant has decided to pull the Infiniti brand out of Western Europe, the Q30 car and QX30 sports-utility vehicle, which will no longer be made in the UK.
About 250 staff could be affected by the move and Nissan intends to discuss the impact with those employees.
Recently, Nissan cancelled plans to build its new X-Trail model in Sunderland, which will now be built in Japan.
The Infiniti brand has struggled to make a mark in Western Europe- last year sales halved to 5,800. About 70,000 of Infinite cars have been made in Sunderland since production began in 2015.
Western Europe remains the most challenging and competitive region for premium cars, Infiniti's chief spokesman, Trevor Hale, said.
The company said in a statement that the company will place more focus on its SUV lineup in North America, bring five new vehicles to China over the next five years, work to improve quality of sales and residual value, and realise more synergies with Nissan Motor Company.
Nissan said that it intends to transform Infiniti into a "top challenger brand" in international premium car sector.
The restructuring plan "will focus the brand on its largest growth markets, specifically North America and China, while withdrawing from Western Europe," the statement said. This restructuring plan will have no impact on Infiniti's ongoing operations in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia, which continue to grow, it added.
The Infiniti line-up of cars will be electric from 2021 and diesel versions will be discontinued in response to strong consumer and regulator demand for cleaner transport, the company said.
Commenting on the latest development, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said this is yet another blow to Sunderland, only a few weeks after Nissan decided to take planned production of the X-Trail out of the city.
Bailey said that when looking at what is happening to the car industry, from Swindon right through to Sunderland, it is clear the UK car industry has been undermined by this government. She added that the Tories' mishandling of Brexit has created prolonged uncertainty, and they have refused to support the industry while it faces enormous challenges, like electrification.