Nissan reported to have pushed back production of new Qashqai amid coronavirus and Brexit uncertainty
The firm announced in October 2016 that it would build both a next generation of the best-selling family crossover and a new X-Trail at its Sunderland plant after reassurances from the Government over the vote to leave the EU.
But the X-Trail plans were scrapped in February 2019 and four years after that initial announcement, the firm has still not announced a start date for production of the new Qashqai.
Now the Financial Times (FT) has reported that the Japanese giant has pushed production back until the middle of next year.
The paper says that although the decision is mainly due to the impact of the coronavirus on demand, the move will also allow the firm to analyse the impact of any Brexit deal – or lack of one – on its long-terms plans.
The UK has left the European Union but remains part of the Customs Union and Single Market until the end of the transition period on New Year’s Eve. More than half the cars built at the Sunderland plant are destined for the European market and Nissan has repeatedly warned a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would jeopardise the future of its UK operation.
On a visit to the plant last year, European chairman Gianluca de Ficchy told reporters the company was desperate for clarity on what form the future relationship between the UK and EU would take and said: “If a No-deal scenario means a sudden application of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) tariffs, we know that in that case our business model won’t be sustainable in the future.”
The FT report says the plant was due to begin building the new Qashqai in October but the date has now been put back to ‘after April 2021’.
A Nissan spokesperson said: “Preparations continue for the launch of the new Qashqai in Sunderland, which represents a £400million investment in the plant.
"We have not yet announced a date for the next-generation model, but look forward to sharing some exciting news in the coming months”.