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Nissan invests £400m in UK car plant to build future models

The car manufacturer has unveiled a new £52m press line, which it has installed ahead of building a new version of the Qashqai sport utility vehicle

Nissan is investing £400m ($520m, €459m) in its car plant in Sunderland, UK, in order to build new models at the site. This s despite the company’s warnings that tariffs after Brexit will jeopardise the facility’s exports.

The Japanese carmaker unveiled a new £52m press line. This has been installed ahead of making a new version of the Qashqai, the family sport utility vehicle that accounts for two-thirds of the site’s output. Installation of the press line began 18 months ago.

Despite pledging in late 2016 to make the next Qashqai model in the UK, the company has never detailed its investments in the site. It is expected to begin production of the new model around the end of this year.

The majority of the £400m investment, which is supported by an £11m government grant, is said to have already been spent.

The spending comes despite Nissan repeatedly warning that tariffs with Europe will damage the business model that involves exporting 70 per cent of the vehicles made at the site to the EU.

Britain is negotiating a free trade deal with Europe, but may leave the bloc at the end of 2020 without a trading agreement. This would lead to tariffs and border checks if negotiations fail.

New car production in the UK last year fell 14 per cent to 1.3 million. And spending on new projects in the sector fell to £1.1bn compared with an average yearly spend of £2.75bn, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Nissan invested £100m last year to begin producing the new Juke model, a smaller car, at the Sunderland plant where it has pledged to spend £1bn over five years.

The Sunderland site first opened in the 1980s as a European export base. It employs around 6,000 staff and has suffered output falls from 510,000 vehicles in 2016 to 347,000 last year.

FURTHER READING: Nissan shares fall by more than 10 per cent

FURTHER READING: Nissan completes UK's longest driverless car trip

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