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Nissan scraps plan to make X-Trail SUV in UK

Automaker will produce new model in Japan amid Brexit uncertainty

X-Trail SUVs on display at a Nissan showroom in Yokohama, Japan, in May 2015.
X-Trail SUVs on display at a Nissan showroom in Yokohama, Japan, in May 2015.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor has canceled plans to manufacture the new model of the X-Trail sport utility vehicle in the U.K., with production to be handled in Japan.

The decision, announced on Sunday, suggests that growing uncertainties over Brexit may have prompted the Japanese automaker to reconsider its positioning of the U.K. as a production base.

"While we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the U.K.'s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future," Nissan Europe Chairman Gianluca de Ficchy said in a statement.

Nissan assembles about 500,000 vehicles a year at the Sunderland plant in northern England. A few months after the U.K. voted in the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union, the company said it would build the next Qashqai and Juke crossover SUVs and the next X-Trail model there, persuaded by the country's assurances to stay competitive post-Brexit. But with the British Parliament deeply divided over departure terms, a disorderly "no-deal" Brexit has become a distinct possibility. 

Nissan says production of the Qashqai and Juke will continue at Sunderland.

With Brexit set for March 29, other automakers are making similar plans. Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors, announced in January that it would cut 4,500 largely British jobs. BMW and Honda Motor, which have U.K. factories, will temporarily suspend production in April.

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