Nissan is considering moving the manufacturing of two Renault SUV models from Barcelona to its Sunderland plant, it is reported.
Such a move could secure thousands of British manufacturing jobs at Nissan, which committed £400m in extra funding to the factory in March.
The Japanese car manufacturer is reportedly in talks with its strategic partner Renault to produce the Captur and Kadjar sport-utility vehicles in the UK.
Nissan wants to ramp up production in the north east, the Financial Times reported.
The future of the Sunderland plant has been in doubt since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Without a Brexit trade deal the auto industry faces tariffs of 10 per cent on cars and car parts.
And as recently as October, Nissan’s European chairman, Gianluca de Ficchy, warned that the introduction of 10 per cent export tariffs could put its operations “in jeopardy”.
But the reported talks signal a commitment to keep the UK’s largest car factory running and its 6,000 employees in jobs. The company has already invested £400m in its UK operations this year.
The Sunderland site is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is set to reopen in June at the earliest.
Other changes made to Nissan’s operations as part of the restructuring plans include the shuttering of its Barcelona van plant. Around 600 jobs have already been shed at the Spanish factory.
Vehicles currently manufactured at its Sunderland plant would be produced in South African factories and Renault’s French plant in Maubeuge, the FT reported
The restructuring of Nissan’s European operations comes as the manufacturer attempts to mitigate the profit drain that has been caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Up to a fifth of its global production capacity is set to be cut, as plants and showrooms across the world have been forced to close due to lockdown measures.
Meanwhile, Renault has drawn on billions of euros of government-backed loans to keep its operations afloat during the coronavirus crisis.
Nissan is set to unveil a three-year plan on 28 May, while Renault is also set to reveal a cost-cutting plan this month.
A spokesman for Nissan told PA: “We do not comment on speculation.”