Nissan will invest £400m into its Sunderland plant in a much needed boost for the facility, the future of which has been in doubt due to fears over possible tariffs post Brexit.
The investment comes as Nissan ramps up its preparations for its new Qashqai model, including a £52m new press line, which was unveiled today after 18 months of development.
The new generation Qashqai will be the third iteration of the car to be built in the Sunderland plant, which has produced nearly 3m of the model since 2006.
Speaking at the unveiling of the press line today, Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta said: “When the first Nissan Qashqai rolled off the line in Sunderland in 2006 it created the crossover segment.
“Designed, engineered and made in the UK, and more than three million vehicles later, it remains the benchmark, just as our team in the UK continues to set the standard for productivity and quality.”
In addition to the £400m planned for the Qashqai, Nissan has already put £100m into the development of the new Juke model, which has been built in Sunderland for ten years.
In all, the Japanese auto giant plans to put £1bn into the factory over the next ten years.
Today’s investment comes in spite of the company’s European chairman warning last month that without a free trade deal with the EU, Nissan’s factory “would not be viable”.
Speaking at a press conference in Paris, Gianlucca de Ficchy said: “We just wouldn’t be able to sell our cars.”
De Ficchy said that if a deal was not reached, Nissan could make the Qashqai, Juke and electric Leaf models – which are currently made in Sunderland – at its partner Renault’s plants.
Britain has until the end of the year to reach a free-trade agreement with the EU. If it fails, a 10 per cent tariff would be applied to cars and parts that could spell the end for many auto plants in the UK.
The Brexit negotiations pose a problem for Nissan during a tough time for the Japanese car company. Last month, it cut its full-year profit outlook and scrapped its year-end dividend amid tough trading conditions.