Nissan has revealed it is planning to move some of the production of the Nissan Qashqai to Russia to avoid import duty.
The Nissan plant in Sunderland is a real success story, not just for Nissan but for the UK economy as a whole. Last year Sunderland produced over 400,000 cars – many of them exported – including the Qashqai, Juke and Note and next year it will start to build the Nissan LEAF for Europe.
But with Sunderland running at capacity and the LEAF soon to start production, Nissan has decided it’s time to shift some of the Qashqai production off to Russia to not only relieve the strain on Sunderland but to up production at its St Petersburg plant.
The plan is to trim production of the Qashqai at Sunderland when the next generation Qashqai arrives in two years time and move it to St Petersburg alongside production of the Murano and X-Trail.
That will not only give Sunderland room to breathe but allow Nissan to sell the Qashqai at more competitive prices in Russia – the biggest market for Sunderland’s production – by avoiding the 30 per cent import duty.
Nissan are planning to double production at St Petersburg in the next two years to 100,000 so – as the UK produces around 200k Qashqais – it looks like up to 20 per cent of Qashqai production could shift to St Petersburg in 2014.
But with the LEAF coming on stream in Sunderland, strong Juke sales, a probable bigger market for the Note’s replacement (the Nissan Invitation) and a new battery plant there’s little chance of Sunderland running short of work.