Nissan: City leaders assured 250 jobs safe as engine plant set to close in 2024 following end of Renault deal

Japanese car maker Nissan is preparing to end production at its engine cylinder plant as its sole contract winds down.

The automotive giant’s deal to build cylinder heads for French firm Renault’s combustion engines is due to end in 2024.

But the move is not expected to result in any job losses, with all 250 employees affected due to be redeployed to other departments, staff were reportedly told today (Tuesday, August 23).

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Nissan is a major employer on Wearside.

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A spokesman for the firm said: “From early 2024, Nissan Sunderland Plant will cease production of cylinder heads on site.

“We do not expect this to result in job losses, and are working with staff as we redeploy them to other parts of the business.”

It is understood the contract with Renault is currently due to expire early in 2024.

The end of deal has been branded “concerning” by Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South.

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The shadow education secretary said: "This is concerning news and my thoughts now are with everyone who works at the plant and in the supply chain.

"I’ve spoken with Nissan and it is really important that they ensure there are new opportunities available for everyone affected by today’s announcement."

Engine cylinders have been made at the Wearside factory for more than three decades, although the industry is gradually moving towards a greater focus on electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing.

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And the reassurance that staff at the factory, a major employer on Wearside, would be found roles elsewhere at the plant, was greeted as “fantastic news” by Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council.

He said: “The shift to electrification has resulted in carmakers the world-over re-evaluating their working practices to ensure they are fit for the 21st Century and Nissan is no exception.

“As the engine cylinder plant begins to wind down in 2024, the Envision gigafactory – which alongside investment from Nissan will see over £1 billion being pumped into the site - will likely be charging ahead, creating thousands more jobs and ensuring Sunderland remains at the forefront of the global automotive industry.”

He added: “I think I speak for the entire city when I say how proud we are to be home to Nissan and how thankful we are for their continued investment into Sunderland and its surrounding areas, and we look forward to continue working ever-closer with them as we look ahead to the future.”

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Following the latest news, Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said: “I have met with Nissan to discuss their announcement that they will be closing their casting operation at end of 2023, after their contract with Renault was not renewed.

"It is concerning that Nissan will be losing this operation, especially for the 250 workers, but Nissan have assured me that there will be no job losses as all staff will be redeployed within Nissan.

"I will also meet with Unite officials as soon as can be arranged."

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Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott added: “It’s disappointing that Nissan’s Casting Plant, which employs around 250 people, has not been awarded the new contract with Renault.

"Relieved to say Nissan have given me their assurances that the jobs will not be lost but transferred within Nissan.”

‘Ongoing supply chain issues’, particularly a global shortage of semi-conductors exacerbated by coronavirus lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine, have been blamed for a slump in registrations of new cars in the UK this year.

But the Nissan Qashqai, which is built on Wearside, was named the country’s top-selling car in July, with 2,514 registrations, closely followed by Mini, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

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When contacted by the Echo, a spokesman for Unite the Union declined to comment.