Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

Infiniti Gives up on Western Europe, Will Leave in Early 2020

Infiniti Gives up on Western Europe, Will Leave in Early 2020

The models' shuttering will be the second blow within weeks for the U.K.'s biggest auto plant after Nissan abandoned a plan to make the X-Trail sport utility vehicle there, citing uncertainty over Brexit as a factor.

Infiniti said this decision was part of a restructuring plan that allows it to focus purely on its most active markets - namely, North America and China.

Nissan's premium brand suffered a 78.7% volume decline in 2018, from 3,515 to just 750 units, despite building its Q30 and QX30 models in Sunderland, and has just six United Kingdom dealerships, following the closure of the Glyn Hopkin-run site in St Albans. It will shift its focus to North America and China, and continue its smaller operations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Both models are sold globally but produced only in Britain.

The restructuring plan will end all Infiniti auto sales in western Europe, although Nissan's premium brand will continue in some eastern European countries, along with China and the USA.

Infiniti has always been on the sidelines in Europe's competitive auto market, selling few vehicles. The brand has said new vehicles introduced after 2021 will be electrified, meaning they will be offered as a hybrid or pure battery electric vehicle-that has not changed.

The move will mean the end of 250 manufacturing jobs in Sunderland, although Nissan said it hopes to find alternative work for the employees affected. There are 55 Infiniti retail stores in western Europe.

It is understood there are fewer than 250 workers on the Q30, with 12,000 Infiniti models turned out by the plant out of the 500,000 vehicles produced past year.

"This is all part of Infiniti's vision to become a top challenger brand in the premium segment", it said.

Infiniti announced on Tuesday that it intends to withdraw from Western Europe in 2020.

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