The restructuring plan will end all Infiniti vehicle sales in western Europe, although Nissan's premium brand will continue in some eastern European countries, along with China and the USA. Both vehicles are sold globally but produced only in Sunderland.
It's a second blow for the factory in as many months after the Japanese company confirmed in early February that it had cancelled plans to build the next-generation Nissan X-Trail SUV at the British facility. And while Infiniti plans to leave Western Europe, it will stay active in Eastern Europe, in addition to Asia and the Middle East.
Workers at Britain's biggest vehicle plant received more bad news today when Nissan's luxury Infiniti division announced that it will halt production in Sunderland within months.
According to Car Sales Base, the brand sold just 6250 vehicles across Europe a year ago, down from 12,571 in 2017.
Infiniti said an exit from western Europe will allow it to focus on its initiative to "electrify" a good portion of its product portfolio from 2021 and discontinue diesel offerings.
Infiniti centres will remain open – for now
Infiniti has struggled to effectively meet emissions and other regulatory requirements in Europe, Hale said, referring to stringent Euro 6 emissions requirements and other regulatory challenges.
In a statement, Infiniti said its restructuring plan "will focus the brand on its largest growth markets, specifically North America and China, while withdrawing from western Europe". "This is all part of Infiniti's vision to become a top challenger in the premium segment", the company said.
It is unknown if the report of reduced operating hours is linked to the Infiniti decision. There are 55 Infiniti retail stores in western Europe.