Nissan to end Sunderland production of luxury Infiniti brand

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Britain's auto industry has been dealt a fresh blow with Nissan's premium marque Infiniti announcing it will stop building cars at the company's giant Sunderland plant.

In December previous year an Infiniti spokesman told Autocar that there are no plans for it to exit the UK.

Just 60,000 Infinitis have been bought in the last 11 years.

"Western Europe remains the most challenging and competitive region for premium cars", Infiniti's chief spokesman, Trevor Hale, said. It will shift its focus to North America and China, and continue its smaller operations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

The company says the plant management "will discuss any impact on the plant with employees and their representatives".

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The move will mean the end of 250 manufacturing jobs in Sunderland, although Nissan said it hopes to find alternative work for the employees affected.

In a statement, Unite national officer Steve Bush said the decision, while driven by poor sales, was "obviously sad news". The brand has said new vehicles introduced after 2021 will be electrified, meaning they will be offered as a hybrid or pure battery electric vehicle-that has not changed.

The Japanese vehicle maker said the move was part of plans to withdraw from the premium auto market in western Europe, where the Infiniti brand faces stiff competition from local rivals including Jaguar Land Rover, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

'Nissan has reiterated its commitment to the United Kingdom and its workforce by continuing to manufacture in Sunderland the current Qashqai, Leaf and Juke models, as well as the new Qashqai model'.

Responding to today's announcement, Unite said it would be seeking assurances on future employment and was confident of securing redeployment opportunities for the 200-plus workers affected.

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