Government Offered £80m To Nissan To Build X-Trail

Mon 4th Feb 2019

Nissan’s decision to pull the X-Trail model from its Sunderland plant this week came despite the UK government offering major financial assistance.

The offer from the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, was made to the then head of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, in the aftermath of the EU referendum. The Government wanted to secure a future for production at the plant and the development of new models, which included the X-Trail and the Qashqai. The offer was made in full confidentiality to the Japanese firm, but in light of the move to take the X-Trail production back to Japan, the letter to Nissan has now been published.

The letter said: “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 £80 million. 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. We recognise that the UK has a stake, and we are backing your continued success in Sunderland to the hilt.”

The company’s Chairman, Gianluca de Ficchy made the shock announcement on Sunday, a decision which stunned the 7,000 strong workforce at Sunderland.

Mr de Ficchy, said: "Nissan is investing heavily in new technologies and powertrains for the next generation of vehicles in our Sunderland plant.

"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.

"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.”