Japanese carmaker Nissan will gradually phase out the production and sale of diesel cars in Europe, new reports have suggested.
It’s the latest auto manufacturer to respond to weakening demand for the under-fire fuel type, as customers have shifted away from diesel due to tax rises and talks of restrictions and bans on their access to cities in numerous countries.
The move could be bad news for workers at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, which currently employs around 7,000 people.
Motor industry jobs at risk: Nissan’s decision to phase out diesel cars could have an impact on the 7,000 workers employed at its UK manufacturing facility in Sunderland
A Nissan spokeswoman said there would be a gradual withdrawal of diesel cars in Europe.
It comes after a significant decline in sales was sparked last year by new measures introduced by governments to curb their use in a bid to reduce air pollution in their respective nations.
Latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders last week showed just how far out of favour diesel has fallen.
New diesel registrations in April were down 25 per cent compared to a year ago.
As a result, the market share for diesel has dropped from 45 per cent to just 30 per cent in the space of 12 months.
The fall in demand could have ramifications for the Sunderland factory, which churns out more cars than any other facility in the UK.
Last year it produced some 495,206 vehicles from the one facility. Only Jaguar Land Rover built more vehicles in the UK, assembling 532,107 cars at three different sites.
The Sunderland plant is the single biggest car production facility in the UK. Last year it produced almost half a million cars
Nissan is the latest car makers to move away from diesel following weakening demand
In a statement released last month, the car maker said: ‘As previously communicated, we are transitioning to a new range of powertrains over the next year.
‘As we make the operational changes required to support this, we will be managing a planned short-term reduction in powertrain supply and plant volumes at NMUK (Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK) in line with our 2018 Business Plan.
‘We are now discussing these operational changes with our employees.’
Nissan said last month that it was ‘discussing operational changes’ with its employees as part of the process of shifting production to new cleaner powertrains
The Sunderland factory produces the Nissan Qashqai – the best-selling SUV in the country
It follows in the footsteps of Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and Porsche to wind down diesel efforts.
The auto industry and its suppliers are facing a global regulatory crackdown on diesel emissions and are adjusting their businesses, including investing heavily in electric vehicles.
German carmaker Volkswagen is also still in the process of emerging from a 2015 emissions cheating scandal that resulted in about $30 billion in fines and other costs.
‘Along with other manufacturers and industry bodies we can see the progressive decline of diesel but we do not anticipate its sudden end in the short-term. At this point in time and for many customers, modern diesel engines will remain in demand and continue to be available within Nissan’s powertrain offering,’ said the Nissan spokeswoman.
‘In Europe, where our diesel sales are concentrated, our electrification push will allow us to discontinue diesel gradually from passenger cars at the time of each vehicle renewal,’ she added.
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