Nissan plans to cut 10,000 jobs as for Sunderland workers fear for jobs

motor manufacturer

Eight thousand Nissan workers in the UK are anxiously awaiting news as to where big cuts by the Japanese car manufacturer will fall.

Before the company’s half-year earnings figures, which are expected to be published tomorrow, reports out of Tokyo indicate that Nissan could call for 10,000 redundancies worldwide, double the 4,800 cuts the manufacturer had previously indicated. The news is expected to come overnight.

Nissan — Japan’s second largest automotive group, behind Toyota — is one of the UK’s largest automotive employers alongside Jaguar Land Rover and BMW, which builds Minis and Rolls-Royces in the country, and Ford, which assembles car and van engines.

The UK is Nissan’s main European base, employing 7,000 people at its sprawling manufacturing facilities in Sunderland, where it assembles nearly 500,000 vehicles a year, most notably the best-selling Qashqai model. There are another 1,000 employees working for its sales and marketing operations headquartered in Maple Cross, Hertfordshire, as well as at its engineering and research technical centre at Cranfield, Bedfordshire, and its design studio, the birthplace of the Qashqai, in Paddington, London.

A spokesman for Nissan declined to comment on the reports, saying: “We have made no announcement.”

The future of Nissan in Sunderland has been a political hot potato ever since Theresa May cut a secret deal with Nissan’s boss at the time, Carlos Ghosn, giving assurances of support for the plant during the uncertainties of Brexit. That, however, did not prevent Nissan from pulling plans to bring its X-Trail 4×4 model to the Sunderland assembly lines.

The reports out of Tokyo indicated that the focus of the job cuts may be in the Americas. Its South American plants are seen to be of low profitability while the carmaker has also been reporting weak sales in the United States.

The job cuts come against a backdrop of crisis at the auto giant. It lost its charismatic leader and saviour, Mr Ghosn, amid allegations of financial wrongdoing at the turn of the year. That destabilised its cross-shareholding alliance with Renault, the French carmaker. It has long been argued, most notably by Emmanuel Macron when he was the French economics minister, that more Nissan models should be manufactured at Renault’s under-utilised plants in France.

Nissan’s financial performance has not been good. Global sales fell last year by 4.4 per cent to 5.5 million. That included a 9 per cent fall in the US and a near-15 per cent fall in Europe, where there has been a backlash against diesel vehicles, directly impacting the Nissan Qashqai. In the first three months of the year, Nissan’s earnings fell to a nine-year low with a warning of worse to come.