It’s not often that the British automotive industry offers us good news. But Nissan’s Sunderland plant is now assembling the new Juke model…
‘Designed, Engineered and Manufactured In The UK’
It’s been arguably one of the worst year’s of Nissan’s existence. Its former CEO, Carlos Ghosn, has been charged with gross misconduct and financial criminality; leaving the company in the disarray so typical of a power vacuum. In addition, the company has also signalled that a no-deal Brexit scenario would compromise its entire European operation; potentially jeopardising its vast plant in Sunderland. But it appears that all isn’t lost, as production of the new Juke model has begun at the facility. Designed with the European market in mind, it’ll be assembled no where else in the world.
Gianluca de Ficchy, Chairman for Nissan Europe, emphasised continued investment in the site. He said, “the new Juke represents a further £100m investment in our Sunderland plant and is designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK for European customers”. He added, “with more than 35,000 jobs supported by Nissan in the UK, I would like to thank our experienced and skilled teams in Paddington, Cranfield and Sunderland, and our wider supply base, for their efforts in bringing this all-new model to life”. The investment has taken the form of 5,000 hour’s worth of staff training and sophisticated plant machinery to cater to the Juke’s advanced tech and personalisation options. Staff headcount will, however, remain the same.
Is The Juke Enough?
Some plant workers and analysts will look at the Juke and express a sigh of relief; regarding it as an indication that, for now, Nissan remains committed to the UK. As it stands, numerous Japanese automakers are pondering on their UK-based operations. Honda, for example, has closed its Swindon plant. Most originally invested in the country during the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher’s government marketed the nation as a gateway to Europe; with attractive business rates to boot. But as Ficchy himself has emphasised, an aggressive divorce from Brussels could lead to the imposition of costly tariffs and trouble at customs. The former will eat away at tighter profit margins and the latter will disrupt the ‘last minute’ supply chain many car manufacturers rely upon.
It’d be overly optimistic to see the Juke’s production at Sunderland as a sign that the plant is safe; or that Nissan is dedicated to the UK in the long-term. But it is, at least, a sign that the end has not yet come…And just maybe need not come, if our departure from the EU (whatever form it takes) can mitigate disruption to the industry.
No-Deal Brexit: Nissan Qashqai Production Could Stop At Sunderland – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/no-deal-brexit-nissan-qashqai-production-could-stop-at-sunderland/
Nissan: No-Deal Brexit Threatens Entire European Operation – https://www.autoservefleet.co.uk/latest-news/nissan-no-deal-brexit-threatens-entire-european-operation/