LONDON – Union representatives are seeking assurances from Nissan that the automaker will continue to invest in its UK factory even after the company canceled plans to build the next X-Trail in Britain, citing Brexit concerns and falling diesel sales.
Nissan cited ongoing doubts about the UK's split from the European Union in its decision to consolidate X-Trail production in Japan, along with falling demand for diesel cars in Europe.
The company had planned to build a diesel version of the X-Trail at its factory in Sunderland, northeast England.
Nissan said the continued uncertainty around the UK's future relationship with the EU "is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future," prompting renewed fears among some in Britain that Brexit was hitting the economy.
Nissan was meeting representatives from Britain's biggest union, Unite, on Monday.
Unite's acting national officer for the automotive sector, Steve Bush, said he wanted Nissan to work with their employees regarding the future. "Unite now expects the company to work with us to ensure full preparations for Brexit in which jobs and investment are prioritized, which can be best achieved by our representation on the task force established by Nissan."
Britain secured the Nissan investment just four months after the June 2016 vote to leave the EU with promises to maintain the competitiveness of the plant. Since then lawmakers have rejected a negotiated Brexit deal, raising the prospect of an exit without agreement, leading to tariffs and customs checks.
The UK's business minister, Greg Clark Clark, said 740 new jobs were due to be created by the X-Trail investment but none of the existing workforce would be hit by the decision to pull the model.
Nissan builds the Qashqai and Juke SUVs in Sunderland, along with the Nissan Leaf and Infiniti's Q30 and QX30 models, according to the Automotive News Europe Guide to European Assembly Plants.
The company's planned investment in the next-generation Juke and Qashqai models, which was also announced in 2016, was unaffected, Nissan said on Sunday.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report