Update: Nissan U-turns despite £80m Govt sweetener


Nissan has u-turned on a decision to build the new X-Trail model in Sunderland despite the Government having offered the car giant around £80m in inducements.

A 2016 letter from business secretary Greg Clark, detailing the behind the scenes overtures made by minsters to secure Nissan's commitment to build certain models in Sunderland, has now been published.

Despite the offer, which had appeared to secure production in the north, the Japanese manufacturer recently confirmed that the X-Trail (pictured) will now be made in solely Japan. In a letter to workers, it said the continuing Brexit uncertainty was not helping it 'plan for the future'.

The £80m offer built on £40m of support provided in recent years. A £22m grant announcement for Nissan was also announced in September 2016.

Update: A grant offer 'totalling £61m was made on 21 June 2018', Mr Clark confirmed. Nissan will now be forced to reapply for that cash, following its decision to drop X-Trail production in this country.

Mr Clark told the Commons: 'In 2016, Nissan initially considered applying for a total of up to £80 million in support over nine years for skills training, research and development, and environmental improvements, and it was eventually awarded £61 million—around £7m a year over nine years.

'Grant support for training and development and for environmental improvements were applied for and approved by the Industrial Development Advisory Board on the basis that both the Qashqai and the X-Trail models would be built in Sunderland. Given yesterday’s announcement [to base X-Trail production solely in Japan], if the company seeks to participate in those industry funding schemes—as I hope and expect it will—it will submit new applications in the standard way and undergo a process of independent assessment.'


Ministers and Number 10 had previously played down the suggestion of financial offers to Nissan, after questions were raised by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The 2016 letter had previously been kept secret due to commercial sensitivity; however that no longer applies.

It stated: 'As a demonstration of the UK Government’s commitment, we are already working with your UK team on a package of support in areas such as skills, R&D and innovation.

'Work continues but I understand this could amount to additional support of up to £80m. You will understand of course that this figure will be subject to business cases being developed, which are independently assessed, and the usual processes of due diligence.

'It is contingent too on a positive decision by the Nissan Board to allocate production of the Qashqai and X-Trail models to the Sunderland plant.'

There has also been millions of pounds of investment in surrounding infrastructure to support Nissan's plants in the area including £80m for a new bridge over the Wear, and Enterprise Zone extension for land adjacent to the Nissan plant.

Sunderland's future

Nissan's Europe chairman, Gianluca de Ficchy, said the company always intended to start production of the X-Trail 4x4 in Japan but there had been a business case for bringing production to Europe as well. However it is now planning 'to optimise our investments and concentrate production in Kyushu (Japan), instead of adding another production site'.

This does not mean there will be job losses at Sunderland but that hundreds of new jobs will not be created.

'Nissan is investing heavily in new technologies and powertrains for the next generation of vehicles in our Sunderland plant,' he said.

'To support this, we are taking advantage of our global assets, and with X-Trail already manufactured in Japan, we can reduce our upfront investment costs.'

He added that that Sunderland still had the firm's 'full confidence'.

'While we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the UK's future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future,' he added.

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Definitive Map Manager

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
This role is based within the Highways Service at Cambridgeshire County Council and provides an unusual and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Bridge Park Operations Manager

Brent Council
£38,799 - £41,706 p.a. inc.
This is an exciting opportunity to play a key role in managing the operations and contributing towards the... Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Assistant Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,074 - £30,756
A great opportunity for someone looking to start or develop a career in Highways Engineering including the... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Head of Strategic Transport

Cheshire East Council
£64,000 - £75,000 + benefits
We’re committed to “working for a brighter future together” – and we expect you to be too! Cheshire
Recuriter: Cheshire East Council

Regeneration Manager

Mole Valley District Council
£52,895 - £57,143 FTE
This is a great career opportunity to specialise in town centre regeneration and repositioning. Dorking, Surrey
Recuriter: Mole Valley District Council

Technical Services Officer (Mechanical)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£36,876 - £38,813
This is an exciting and challenging time for Kirklees and we want to expand our team to manage and deliver construction... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Road and Footway Asset Engineer

Kent County Council
£28,925 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the Road and Footway Asset Team as an Asset Engineer. Kent
Recuriter: Kent County Council

Head of Waste

Lincolnshire County Council
£65,651 - £70,725
As Head of Waste, you will be commercially focussed and forward-thinking. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Assistant Director

Reading Borough Council
Up to £92k
It’s the ideal time to take the lead on our modernisation agenda, and deliver growth in the trading of our front line services. Reading, Berkshire
Recuriter: Reading Borough Council

Assistant Director – Highways

Lincolnshire County Council
£82,264 - £107,878
Come and lead the future agenda for our highways services. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

County Highways Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
Seeking a highly motivated leader and an excellent communicator, who has a proven ability to build relationships and trust, leading by example. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Local Highways Manager (East) - Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council
G12 £43,662 - £50,430
Seeking someone who combines excellent technical knowledge with a dedication to the customer. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council