Nissan is in talks with alliance partner Renault to build two of the French brand’s SUV models at its Sunderland plant, the Financial Times is reporting. 

The Kadjar and Captur SUVs, which share their platforms with Nissan’s Qashqai and Juke respectively, are currently built in Spain. However, the two brands are looking to consolidate production, as well as boost the fortunes of Sunderland, Nissan’s flagship international factory. The FT cites two people familiar with the discussions. 

A major reshuffle is expected to result in Nissan cutting its overall production capacity by 20% in 2023, closing the firm’s Barcelona plant, which makes commercial vehicles for export. That plant had been running at just 30% capacity, reports suggest. 

A decision to move production of two of Renault’s most popular models to the UK would likely secure thousands of jobs at Sunderland. The plant’s future had been in doubt following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, with Nissan warning that tariffs on exports into the EU would put it in jeopardy. 

The move would also point to a reunification between Nissan and Renault, a relationship that looked strained after the arrest and subsequent escape of former alliance boss Carlos Ghosn.

Ghosn was instrumental in forming the alliance between the French and Japanese makers, which was at one time the world’s largest car-making group. Since then, in-fighting is said to have caused a rift between senior executives. 

The full strategy of restructuring Nissan’s European business will be outlined by new Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida on 28 May. The brand has struggled in the region, with problems being greatly compounded by the coronavirus crisis. 

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