Theresa May hails Nissan decision to build new car models in Sunderland
Theresa May has heralded Nissan’s “vote of confidence” in Britain after the car giant confirmed it will build the next generation of its Qashqai SUV model at its Sunderland plant.
In a move that will secure 7,000 jobs in the north east, the Japanese firm said it authorised the decision after “support and assurances from the UK government”.
In an unexpected step, it will also locate building of the X-trail SUV at its Sunderland site.
The Prime Minister hailed the "fantastic" news, saying the company is "at the heart of this country's strong automotive industry".
“It is a recognition that the Government is committed to creating and supporting the right conditions for the automotive industry so it continues to grow – now and in the future," she said.
"This vote of confidence shows Britain is open for business and that we remain an outward-looking, world-leading nation.
“The Government will continue to work closely with employers and investors in creating a global Britain, a country where there are new opportunities for jobs and rewarding careers.
"Families across the North East will be delighted at this news today and I share in their enthusiasm for what this means not just for them, but for the whole of the UK."
The car plant is Britain’s largest, with 475,000 vehicles being made at the location last year, amounting to almost one in three cars made in the UK. Some 80% of its output was exported.
It marks the first major investment decision by an international car maker since June’s vote.
The car giant said last month it would delay investment decisions in the UK until the shape of the post-Brexit deal with the EU becomes clear – unless the Government promises compensation for potential export tariffs.
Carlos Ghosn, the car manufacturer’s chief executive, said Nissan would not commit to build-locations for new generations of vehicles currently made in the UK before the trade terms became evident.
It prompted Chancellor Philip Hammond to try and assuage executives at the firm that it could receive compensation if trade tariffs are introduced between the UK and the European Union after Brexit.
In his speech to the Conservative party conference, Mr Hammond said the Government was “ready to provide support” to businesses as they get used to life outside the EU.
Last week Business Secretary Greg Clark visited Japan for talks with car makers, including representatives from Nissan, Toyota and Honda, to assure them Britain remains “open for business” post-Brexit.
Production of the next Qashqai model is expected to begin in 2018 or 2019.